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Will TUMS Cure Blossom End Rot?

People speculate that blossom end rot in tomatoes and peppers is caused by a lack of calcium in the soil. Many now suggest that dropping a TUMS (common brand of antacid) into the soil below each tomato or pepper will prevent this problem.

Will TUMS cure blossom end rot (BER)?

This is a very good example of a myth that can be debunked very easily, knowing nothing about BER.

Will Tums Cure Blossom End Rot?

Will TUMS Cure Blossom End Rot?

What Causes Blossom End Rot?

BER is caused by a lack of calcium in the fruit. The plant may have lots of calcium but if the plant does not move it to the fruit, the fruit gets blossom end rot.

From this last statement it becomes clear that soil with enough calcium in it, might still lead to BER. Soil that is deficient in calcium, which is not very common, will lead to BER because the whole plant can’t get enough calcium.

Why does a plant not move enough calcium to the fruit? This is still not fully understood, but watering has a lot to do with it. Either too much water, or not enough water will cause BER. The best way to solve the problem in the garden is to water regularly and mulch to keep moisture levels constant.

BER is more fully discussed in Blossom End Rot.

Will TUMS Cure Blossom End Rot?

TUMS contains a significant amount of calcium. If soil is deficient of calcium TUMS will certainly add calcium to the soil, which is then available to tomatoes and peppers.

Calcium deficiency is not a common problem in soils, so for most gardeners, TUMS will have no effect.

Lets assume a soil test was done and the soil is deficient of calcium. How many TUMS does it take to bring the soil back up to adequate levels?

The number will depend on the degree of deficiency and the target level you want. Spectrum Analytical provides a guideline (ref 1) and suggests adding between 500 and 1,500 pounds of gypsum per acre. Let’s go with 1,000 pounds per acre. Gypsum is 22% calcium, so we need to add 220 pounds calcium per acre.

An acre is about 44,000 sq ft, and 220 pounds of calcium is 99,660 g. Each sq ft would require 2.3 g.

The generic brand of TUMS on my desk has 0.75 g calcium carbonate per tablet which is 0.3 g of calcium. So you would need to add 7.6 TUMS for each sq ft of soil in order to add the necessary calcium.

A 10 x 10 ft garden (about 9 sq meters) would require 760 TUMS.

Does this sound like a cost effect home remedy for your garden? What effect do you think the common recommendation of one TUMS per plant has?

This is such a silly myth that it has upset my stomach – good thing I have TUMS handy!

References:

  1. Calcium in Soil; https://www.spectrumanalytic.com/support/library/ff/Ca_Basics.htm
  2. Photo source; Dave Lundy

 

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Robert Pavlis
Editor of GardenMyths.com
I live in southern Ontario, Canada, zone 5 and have been gardening a long time. Besides writing and speaking about gardening, I own and operate a 6 acre private garden called Aspen Grove Gardens which now has over 3,000 perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees. Yes--I am a plantaholic!

I hope you find Garden Myths an educational site that helps you understand your garden better.

4 Responses to 'Will TUMS Cure Blossom End Rot?'

  1. Roger Brook says:

    What about Rennies?Just joking

  2. Larry Reed says:

    That’s an interesting article. Yeah, when you got right down to the figures, it doesn’t seem reasonable, at all, to use this method. Not to mention, it’s rather messy and litters the garden w/ all the extra fillers in Tums. lol

  3. I had never heard the recommendation about using TUMS to prevent blossom end rot but, luckily, have not encountered that problem so far.

    For those of us growing tomatoes in containers, with perhaps one-square foot of soil at the surface, throwing down 7 or 8 TUMS tablets at the beginning of the season may be as cost-effective as anything else. There are many variables even so . . . I buy TUMS at Costco where they’re quite cheap but if tomatoes need TUMS as frequently as I do, perhaps not.

    It’s a bit of a conundrum when you consider that tomatoes are a common cause of indigestion.

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