The rain and then the lack of it has caused many tomatoes, peppers and eggplants to develop blossom end rot. This is a condition brought on by a calcium deficiency. It is not a disease or insect problem.
These plants depend on water for calcium and when it doesen’t come on a regular basis, blossom end rot appears. Water helps the plant’s roots use the calcium in the soil.
The brown or black spot is where the fruit emerges from the blossom. Fruits already affected cannot be helped. Pull off the affected fruit and toss into the compost pile.
For developing fruit, regular watering will help. Water deeply and mulch around the plants to help the soil retain moisture.
Another cause is too much nitrogen fertilizer. High nitrogen also encourages more leaf growth on vegetables, annuals and perennials, frequently at the expense of produce and flowers.
Mothballs in the landscape
Some people use mothballs in the landscape to deter squirrels, chipmunks, mice, snakes and other critters. This is an illegal use of a registered pesticide and can cause damage or death to humans and pets.
In 2010, the National Pesticide Information Center reported 1,514 inquiries about mothballs, a 30 percent increase from 2009. More than half (862) were incidents, such as toxic exposure, including 617 reports of misapplication. Nearly 200 incidents involved children under 5 years of age, placing mothballs’ main chemical, naphthalene, at the top of “25 active ingredients for incidents.”
The chemical can cause a raft of problems when inhaled or ingested, such as cataracts, anemia, liver damage and, in infants, neurological disorders, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Always read and follow the label directions on any home, lawn and garden product.