Why are my tomatoes cracking? If your beautiful tomatoes are now cracking, reeking messes, you may be at your wit’s end trying to figure out what’s going on.
Why Are My Tomatoes Cracking?
In my garden right now, the beautiful large beefsteak-type tomatoes are all starting to crack. There are two types of cracks: vertical cracks, which run from the stem down the side of the tomato, and horizontal cracks, which are usually rings up near the stem. The most common form of cracking and the one that I’ve got going on in my garden this week is the vertical crack that splits tomatoes open, spilling seeds everywhere.
This type of crack is most common when tomatoes receive a sudden rush of water after a dry spell or drought. What happens is that the plants drink as much water as they can, sending water into the fruits. The skin cannot grow quickly enough to accommodate the water. Think about a water balloon; if you fill it too fast it bursts. That’s what’s happening to your tomatoes.
In my case, we had some rain about a week or two ago, but then this past week we received an abundant rainfall of two inches in about a day and a half. The tomatoes were probably shouting “Hallelujah!” as they drank their fill, but within days, I had a mess of cracked tomatoes in the garden.
There’s not much you can do when Mother Nature is behind the problem. If downpours aren’t causing it, check your own watering schedule. Do you neglect you garden for days on end, then pour water on it hoping to keep plants alive? That’s a sure setup to encourage skin cracks in tomatoes.
When you have a lot of tomatoes with cracked skins, you have only a few choices to use them. Those that are still on the vine and not too badly damaged may be salvaged by washing them, cutting out the cracked portion, and slicing up the rest for immediate use. If they fall to the ground, throw them out. The cracks allow too much bacteria to enter the tomato and they will rot quickly.
Tomato season reaches its peak in Virginia in late July and August. Cracks or no cracks, I’m enjoying the tomatoes that I have. I canned another three gallons of soup/juice this past weekend. We made our very first pot of tomato rice soup this weekend using tomatoes from the garden, and it was delicious. Even though it was a lot of work to can the tomato juice, I told my husband, “In January, when the winds are blowing and snow is falling, we’ll pull a can of tomato juice from the shelf and remember these warm, sunny days with every sip.”
If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy:
- How to Make Tomato Juice Without a Juicer
- How to Plant Tomatoes
- Growing Tomatoes
- RECIPE: Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad
Jeanne Grunert is a certified Virginia Master Gardener and the author of several gardening books. Her garden articles, photographs, and interviews have been featured in The Herb Companion, Virginia Gardener, and Cultivate, the magazine of the National Farm Bureau. She is the founder of The Christian Herbalists group and a popular local lecturer on culinary herbs and herbs for health, raised bed gardening, and horticulture therapy.