Split or cracked tomatoes are a common garden problem that’s easy to solve. Here are 5 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 potentially 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.
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.
Regular watering is one of the best ways to prevent tomatoes from cracking open. Give your tomatoes 1-2 inches of water once 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 solution for tomatoes splitting is to add 2-3 inches of mulch around your tomato plants. Mulch holds moisture in the soil, which prevents the cycle of tomatoes being too dry then too wet.
Please don’t use colored bark or mulch made from recycled tires or rubber, since either could leach toxic chemicals into your garden. The best choices for vegetable garden mulch are shredded leaves or straw (not hay, which is full of seeds).
Consider Raised Beds or Containers
If you have trouble with heavy or clay soil, it might be best to grow your tomatoes 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, you can go ahead and harvest any tomatoes that are almost ripe so they don’t end up splitting.
Fertilize Every Two Weeks
Those are the best ways to prevent tomatoes from splitting or cracking. Using these tips, your next tomato crop will be better than ever!