Metro-East Living

Don’t worry too much if your homegrown fruits, veggies have rotten spots on the ends

Q: I went out to pick some tomatoes and they all had a rotten spot on the other end where they were not attached to stem. I have raised tomatoes many years and have never had this before. What is this and how do I get rid of this problem?

B. L. of Venedy

A: The problem that you are describing is called ‘Blossom-end Rot.’ This condition happens when we have weather which is very wet in the spring and then the soil turns very dry. Usually the first fruits are bothered the worst. This condition can also be found on peppers, squash, and watermelons.

This usually starts with a small round sunken area on the bottom area of the fruit and then enlarges turning from brown to black and finally rough leathery texture forms. This is caused by a deficiency of calcium. You can remedy the situation on future developing fruit by applying agricultural lime at the rate of a tablespoon placed around the stem out to six inches. Or you can use finely broken chicken egg shells for the same purpose, but this will usually take longer for the results to change.

The rotten area is unsightly, but the rest of the fruit is edible.

Also do not cultivate deeper than one inch within one foot of the main stem.

Q: There’s a grass that has invaded my zoysia lawn. It grows through and over the top of the zoysia and is now going to seed. Any idea as to how to kill it without hurting the zoysia?

M.W. of Red Bud

A: Your invading grass is nimblewill (Muhlenbergia schreberi). This weedy grass can grow up to 24 inches in length and at every leaf base can form roots that can produce young offshoots and also can produce seed heads. As you have stated it can grow over and through other plants. Your zoysia is so similar to the nimblewill that the only control is an herbicide with DSMA as the active ingredient. The best time to apply this is in the spring.

Q: I have a row of knock-out roses planted next to my house. They have been beautiful for years. This year they were in full bloom and a site to see. A couple of weeks later they appear to be dead. I only fertilized them following the directions on the package for roses. I have since cut them back to the ground and am getting a hint of regrowth, but am not confident in their comeback. Any help?

E. R. of Shiloh

A: Knock-Out Roses are known to being disease resistant and carefree. However stress such as too much water, stress from insects and mites, fertilizing with a dry soil and not watering can kill these hardy roses with high summer temperatures in this venerable condition.

Now as your roses begin to leaf back out, watch them closely for irregular leaf formation-shape and color, fungal diseases, and insect attacks. With the leaf formation just watch to make sure the leaf formation corrects itself in time as the leaves turn green.

However if you notice the leaves are turning red, or a lot of short branches together in clump, or real thick stems forming, or a lot of thorny growth, or the blooms later from and fall off, the rose is in trouble as it has become infected with a virus.

You can avoid any future frustration by destroying these diseased plants. If you notice a fuzzy growth, this is a fungal disease and is treatable by spraying them with an anti-fungal rose spray. If you notice insects, use a rose insect spray. These are good indications the roses can recover.

Charles Giedeman is a local contributing writer. Send your gardening questions to Lifestyle Department, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to

Things to do this week:

  • Start controls for Japanese beetles, if you haven’t already. They will be bad on grapes, roses, apple trees, floral buds on flowering annuals. Do not use the Japanese beetle traps as they just attract more beetles to get together to mate.
  • Certain soils are bone dry right now as well. If you notice this, give the plants deep watering each week — one inch soaking into the soil. Use a soup can to catch the water so you can measure how much water has been applied.