During my visit to the Minnesota State Fair, I had a chance to chat with the Minnesota Master Gardeners staffing the extension booth in the Horticulture Building. I asked what was the most frequent question they were getting at the fair. The answer: Why do my tomatoes look so bad? Many gardeners (including yours truly) are experiencing blossom-end rot on their tomatoes.
According to the Master Gardeners, fluctuations in moisture and too much fertilizer are the most likely causes of blossom-end rot. “Tomatoes don’t like too much nitrogen,” one of the MGs reminded me. I’m seeing blossom-end rot mostly on my paste tomatoes, which are in a new bed to which I added lots of compost. (Oops.) For best results with tomatoes, don’t grow them in the same place more than once every three years. Interestingly, my best-performing tomatoes are yellow pears, growing in a mixed bed in which I have never grown tomatoes.
Julie Weisenhorn says
Thanks for the plug, Mary. We had over 140 Master Gardeners staffing the fair booth this year and about 48 did demonstrations across the aisle. That’s over 560 hours of volunteering and about 12 hours of demonstrations! Holy crow! That doesn’t include the time spent setting up the booth and taking it down either!
Most Master Gardeners have an affinity for volunteering at the fair, and sign up year after year. Routinely, the volunteers answer about 1000 – 1500 questions per day, and the topics range from lawns to pruning apple trees to collecting seed. Like you wrote in your blog, tomatoes are a popular question as are raspberries, apples, roses, and fall-blooming perennials.
Thanks for your blog and for your work with Northern Gardener magazine!