HOW ARE YOUR TOMATOES DOING? My own recent harvest isn’t picture-perfect. As you can see from the photo up top, the skins have cracks, or splits. Read on, and I’ll tell you the cause of these blemishes (hint: I’m to blame) and how they can be avoided on emerging fruit:
Skin-splitting is the result of improper watering. You see, a tomato’s epidermis isn’t particularly elastic. Consequently it will crack or split open if the pulp underneath suddenly absorbs too much moisture. Over-absorption occurs when bone-dry soil receives a thorough soaking. I call this dry-then-drench practice “yo-yo watering.”
To prevent split skins on tomatoes, avoid yo-yo watering! I can tell you that soaring heat, a prolonged drought, and a one-night deluge caused the cracks on my tomatoes. In hindsight, I should have watered the plants daily, not weekly, when temperatures hit 98 degrees for three consecutive days. But I refused to go outside then, let alone fiddle with hoses. Mea culpa.
If you’ve made this same cultural mistake, here’s what you can do. Pick your largest fruits while still green, and let them ripen indoors. Younger fruits can be left on the vine; no cracks will appear as long as soil moisture is maintained.
Fortunately, split-skin tomatoes are still edible, providing you pick them before pests or rot come to call. Just cut off the blemished section of fruit, and enjoy the undamaged portion immediately.
Now, I’d love to hear about your own crop of “Love Apples.” Are the fruits healthy and robust? Or are they suffering the symptoms of our wacky, record-breaking weather?
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