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(Morgan Hill, CA)
Dear Tomato Dirt,
I picked my first red tomato off the vine. It has a split from stem to middle of tomato. The split if about a quarter inch wide and half inch long and is grey and moldy on its edge and inside of the split. Is this caused by a worm of some kind? How do I prevent more of the same before other tomatoes ripen?
Tomato Dirt responds:
It sounds as if your tomato is the victim of cracking.
A tomato cracks when its skin elasticity can't keep up with a sudden influx of watering.
What's your weather been like? Tomato cracks are most common during warm, wet weather, wet weather that follows a dry period, or after excessive watering that follows a dry period.
A good way to prevent cracking is to keep tomatoes on an even, consistent watering schedule.
Of course, you can't control extra-wet weather unless your tomatoes are in containers. In that case, bring them inside a garage or place them in a protected area during downpours.
You can also prevent cracking by fertilizing plants with a balanced tomato fertilizer that has phosphorus and potassium -- like Tomato Tone or Miracle Grow for Tomatoes. (Too much nitrogen in the flowering and fruit stages can cause a growth spurt which leads to cracks.)
As for the moldy spots -- cut them out. You can still eat the remaining parts of the tomato. But a word of caution: cracked tomatoes don't keep as long as unaffected ones.
Learn more about why a tomato cracks and what to do about it.
Your friends at Tomato Dirt
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