Garden Tips from a Tipsy Gardener – Giving Tums to your Tomatoes

May 28th, 2010

Last year my tomatoes caught a brief, but distrubing case of blossom end rot, which is quite possibly the most horrible sounding name of a disease in the history of horrible sounding diseases.

It just makes you want to grab your babies and run…

“C’mon Kids!  We gotta get outta here!  The garden’s got blossom end rot and it’s spreading to the peppers!”


Blossom end rot occurs in tomatoes, peppers and eggplant when there is not enough calcium in the soil to keep up with the growth of the plants.  This is especially likely to happen after a heavy rainfall or if a gardener might uh… accidentally…  uh… forget to uh… turn off a hose… or if an… um… sprinkler tips over and uh…  sprays the pepper patch for two hours or if the soil is already low on calcium.  But blossom end rot can easily be fixed.  You just need to add some calcium to your soil.  Last year, I added a general tomato fertilizer after the ‘end rot’ appeared, but this year I wanted to be pro-active.  So on the advice of my father-in-law Joe, I bought a bottle of Tums.

Well, I bought an off-brand bottle of ‘Tums’.  We only buy generic medicine around here.  According to the Country Doctor, ‘It all comes out of the same vat’.

I was only able to find a fruit flavored off brand version of Tums – hence the pastel colors.

I just took a tablet…

And pushed it down into the damp soil where the tomato roots could find it.

We’ll see if it works.

This year I tried some new varieties of tomatoes…

A Celebrity.

A Mountain Fresh

A Rutgers…

My father-in-law’s favorite variety – Early Girl.

And a Juliet.

It will be interesting to see how these varieties do compared to last year’s overwhelming crop of Romas.

May your tomatoes be bountiful and beautifully blossom rot free.


  • jamoody:

    Love the Mountain Fresh tomatoes, but they are hard to find around these parts.

  • Kait:

    It not only sounds gruesome, it LOOKS gruesome too. Bleck.
    I LOVE tomatoes. Feel free to send any surplus to me. :)
    Right now I am hooked on some local tiny toms. Baby cherry toms that pop when you bite’em and they are so sweet they are like candy. Mmmmm.

  • Last year I had a competition between Early Girl and Better Boy. I did it several years before that. Darn it! Better Boy usually wins.

    This year, I have Brandywine, a yellow pear, and a bunch of random heirloom varieties. I bought a $5 box of tomatoes at the farmers’ market that had 40 tomatoes. Some of them were a little too soft, or when I cut off the tops, so I just buried the discards in dirt. So far, I’ve got more than half a dozen unknowns growing.

  • yvonne nc:

    love celebrities. They are the best for fried green maters. I spray Epsom salt/water solution on the maters for blossom end rot. I’ll try the tums next year. (Provided it helps your plants.)

  • Priss:

    You’ll be flagging people down as they drive by on your country road to get them to take baskets of Juliets off your hands. I’ve never seen such a productive tomato. We quit planting them because we didn’t have enough tomato-eating neighbors to use up our surplus.

    As for blossom end rot, I save eggshells all year long. Rinse them out and let them dry and then bag them in a big ziplock, crushing them as the bag gets full. When planting time rolls around, I run them through my food processor to crush them into the smallest possible pieces. A big handful of these crushed shells go in every hole that we put tomatoes or peppers or eggplants in. No blossom end rot, and cheaper than even store-brand Tums!

  • Woo hoo for the Rutgers tomatoes!!!

  • LucyJoy:

    Thanks for the great tip.

    I love the fact that Early Girl are you FIL’s favorties. They were my Daddy’s favorite, too, so I plant them every year in his memory.

  • GA in GA:

    Oh! I should try the Tums on a few plants in the garden that had an accidental overnight watering last week . . .

    I toss my eggshells into the compost bucket, which in turn the local CD dumps into the compost pile. He turns it, waters it, and in general is keeper of the compost heap. Have not had blossom end rot since we started composting everything possible.

    @Priss – love the idea of storing the eggshells, too!

    My grandfather always used bone meal on his tomatoes.

  • Kris:

    The eggshells mentioned before work great… unless you forget to save the eggshells until after you have planted the tomatoes, and then you are happy that Ms. CDW offers you an alternative plan (off to find Tums under sink now).

    Word to the wise: store the eggshells in the freezer while you are collecting them. And crushing them up is particularly satisfying, I don’t know why.

    Juliets are wonderful sauce tomatoes. I love me some Rutgers just cause of school pride, and the Early Girls are my dad’s favorite, too. Maybe it’s something to do with the name.

  • Hands Down my FAVORITE heirloom tomato is Japanese Black Trifle… you can find it at…

    Simply the best tomato EVER!!!!
    Do you hear me?

  • Tracy:

    Oh you’re gonna love the Mountain Fresh! Mountain Springs are even better I think. Guess I’ll stock up on a bottle of Tums. Have not had to buy them since I was pregnant 17 years ago with son #4.

  • Martha in Kansas:

    Oh, thanks for this! For 2 years now I’ve remembered the Tums too late. Thought they should be UNDER the plant. So before commenting I ran out and poked them in beside mine. I’ve got a small garden, so can’t plant much. I’ve got Yellow Pear (an experiment) and some kind of Romas. Last year’s Romas produced until the frost totally killed the vine. I ate them fresh all summer and then froze them, thank to your idea. When they were gone, it was a sad time in my kitchen.

  • Johnny Cache:

    Try Costoluto Genovese (from Tomato Growers Supply). I’ve tried dozens of different varieties, but this is the only one I grow anymore. It also hapens to be the variety that is the favorite of Rick Bayless and the one he uses in his restaurants.

    As far as plum tomatoes go, I like the Fresh Salsa hybrid from Burpee’s. Very meaty, sweet, and hardly any seeds. Also, they don’t fall off the vine if you barely touch them like Roma’s do.

  • Huh. I’d heard of using eggshells, but not tums. Good thing I have left overs. (I’ve only ever needed Tums when preggo. Soon as the kids came out, heartburn was gone.)

  • Martha in Kansas:

    The Farmer and I tummed his tomatoes out at the farm this afternoon. About 15 plants. (His daughter planted them. She has NO idea how many tomatoes she’s going to have!) Tomatoes all over the US will be shouting your name!

  • Michelle:

    My Juliet is going crazy right now, and they are yummy!

  • PaulieY:

    How many Tums per plant? Just one or more?

    • Rechelle:

      Paulie – I used one.

  • PaulieY:

    Thank you! I’m planting my tomatoes today…No, I’m not a total slacker! I live in the Inland Northwest and we are far, far behind your growing season!