Tomatoes are a plant that requires more of some nutrients and less of others. One of the ones that it requires more of is calcium.
Plants like tomatoes use the calcium to produce strong cell walls, which help protect the plant from attacks by evil pathogens that cause disease. In addition to fighting disease, tomatoes also process the alkaline metal for enzyme activity and metabolism.
One of the biggest plagues to tomato plants is blossom end rot (or BER). This funky-sounding plague is a develops in tomatoes due to a calcium deficiency (or a watering issue). It manifests itself as a watery spot near the blossom end (the bottom, the butt, etc) when the tomato has begun to develop. Eventually, the spot will spread like a cancer. And it will be game over for that fruit.
I’ve been down this road before, mostly with Roma tomatoes, when I first started gardening. It really killed a bumper crop before I realized what was going on. Lesson learned!
So, here’s how to start off your tomato plant right! Putting the calcium right at the root ball means that it’s going to get drawn right in. The process is extremely simple.
Here are some good calcium sources: limestone (caution on that one, apparently), gypsum, Tums, egg shells, powdered milk, and bone meal tea. Me, I prefer to use old calcium supplement tablets.
Here is how I apply the calcium, to start:
1. Crush the tablets up into a fine powder. Make it look like cocaine. if you want to, cut it with a razor and pretend it is mountains of cocaine from Scarface. Just don’t snort it? Your parents would be mad at me. I used a mortar and pestle. These tablets are fairly weak.
2. Prepare your planting container. Since it’s a tomato, make sure the container is deep.
3. Dig a hole for the tomato. Don’t worry about making the hole deeper than the root ball. Tomatoes are, like, the only plant that you can bury the stem, and the plant will benefit from it. The stem will begin producing roots, and the plant will grow bigger and stronger.
4. Put the calcium in the hole.
5. Place the tomato in the hole.
6. Bury it and repeat as necessary!
7. Put up tomato cages and markers.