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Split or cracked tomatoes are a common tomato problem that’s easy to solve. Here are simple ways to keep your tomatoes from splitting or cracking.
Why do tomatoes crack and split?
Tomatoes start splitting when the fruit inside grows faster than the skin. This happens when the tomato plant is exposed to a lot of water all at once, especially if it’s been dry. Then the fruit inside swells with water before the skin has time to grow.
A heavy rain is the usual culprit, but you could cause tomatoes to crack if you overwater them suddenly during a dry period.
Why are cracking and splitting tomatoes bad?
If you pick the tomato and use it right after it splits, there’s no real harm done (aside from the tomato being somewhat less Instagram-worthy).
However, the process of tomatoes splitting means the fruit inside is exposed and unprotected. This can leave them vulnerable to rot, pests, and bacteria.
Ways that tomatoes crack and split
There are two types of cracks that can affect your tomatoes:
Concentric cracking means that the cracks form in circles around the stem end, or top of the fruit. This usually happens with large heirloom beefsteak tomatoes, and is not harmful. However, it’s best to harvest these tomatoes and let them ripen indoors to prevent them from attracting bugs or rotting.
Radial cracks or vertical splits run from the stem end of the fruit to the blossom end. These often gape open and expose the tomato to rot, molds, or fungus.
How to Stop Tomatoes from Cracking and Splitting
Luckily, the problem of tomatoes cracking is simple and so is the solution! Here are a few easy ways to keep tomatoes from splitting.
Bonus: all of these practices will improve both the yield and quality of your tomato crop.
Plant Resistant Varieties
If you’re growing in an area with unpredictable weather (which means your plants could be suddenly overwatered due to rain), choose tomato varieties that are resistant to cracking or splitting.
Artisan Bumble Bee Blend cherry tomato
Gardener’s Delight cherry tomato
Regular watering is one of the best ways to prevent tomatoes from cracking open. Give your tomatoes 1-2 inches of water per week to keep them hydrated.
Consistent watering also helps prevent blossom end rot, which is another problem that often plagues tomatoes and their gardeners.
If you want to be super-technical, you can use a soil moisture tester–but I usually just stick my finger in the soil and ensure it’s damp.
Mulch Your Tomatoes
Another way to prevent tomatoes splitting is to add a layer of mulch around your tomato plants. Mulch holds moisture in the soil, which prevents the cycle of tomatoes being too dry then too wet. Learn about the best types of mulch to use in your garden.
Consider Raised Beds or Containers
If you have trouble with heavy or clay soil, growing tomatoes will be easier in raised beds or containers, like this 10-gallon Smart Pot. Growing in raised beds or containers provides better drainage, so heavy rains will drain away and your tomatoes won’t crack or split.
Check After a Heavy Rain
If you do have a heavy rain, keep an eye on your tomatoes for the next 24 hours. If you notice any cracks or splits, harvest those tomatoes and use them right away.
Also, if you know there’s a rainstorm coming, harvest any tomatoes that are almost ripe so they don’t end up splitting.
Fertilize Every Two Weeks
Feeding your tomatoes regularly keeps them healthy and their growth consistent. I like to use EB Stone Organic Bone Meal or EB Stone Organic Kelp Meal with some homemade compost.
Those are the best ways to prevent tomatoes from splitting or cracking. Using these tips, your next tomato crop will be better than ever!