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Q. My tomatoes stay green for a long time and are very hard. When they finally ripen and I cut them open, the core is almost all white with little or no tomato flesh. I have just about given up. Can you help?
A. Hard core tomatoes are frustrating. You are ready to bite into a juicy, tasty tomato -- and you get a mouthful of tough, stringy fiber instead!
There are at least three reasons tomatoes develop hard center cores.
1. Fluctuating temperatures. Stressful conditions promote hard cores -- especially wide swings in temperatures early in the season, when evenings are cool or cold, and then days are warm.
2. Over-fertilization. Too much of a good thing isn't good.
3. Older varieties. Tomatoes that tend to be juicier, especially older varieties with 5 inner chambers, are more susceptible to developing hard central cores. Newer hybrids that feature meatier centers are more resistant.
You can help your tomatoes avoid developing hard center cores by using frost protection on cold nights, providing fertilizer only in moderation for the first several weeks, and choosing newer varieties for your garden.
Learn more about hard cores in your tomatoes and what to do to avoid this temporary but irritating condition.
Good luck and happy gardening!
Your friends at Tomato Dirt
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