Avid gardeners often love to grow their own veggies, and why wouldn’t they? Nothing tastes quite as good tomato on toast (with salt and pepper, of course!) fresh from your garden.
But have you ever kept your tomato plants healthy, pest-free and thriving up until fruiting time, to then be left with cracked, dried-out fruit? Here’s why, and how to avoid split, unsightly toms this summer.
Generally, skin splits occur in tomatoes as a result of inconsistent watering. For example, after a bout of hot weather followed by heavy downfalls, you’ll likely find a majority of your tomatoes split at the seams.
Thanks to the excess rain, your tomatoes are growing (yay!). However, rapid growth puts stress on your tomatoes’ skin, which causes the frustrating cracks. The same thing can occur if you’re watering by hand. Say you forget to water your garden for a few days, and your tomato plants dry out. You then soak them to make up for the lack of attention and… bam! Cracked tomatoes.
The first thing you want to do to keep your tomatoes intact is water on a schedule. Make sure your tomato plants always stay slightly moist, and increase your watering during hot weather. If you do miss a few days (we’re all human), only water enough to dampen the soil, not soak it.
‘What about the rain?’, I hear you say. Well, if you have open beds in your garden, there’s not a huge amount you can do. Mulching can help, though, to even out the water reaching your roots. But you’ll always be somewhat at the mercy of mother nature. And really, isn’t that what gardening is all about?
Sadly, tomatoes tend to dry out or become infested with insects and bacteria once they’ve split. If the split occurred recently, pick your fruit ASAP—it might still be safe to eat. Otherwise, chuck your split fruit into your compost bin. Sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry.
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