The title of this sounds like one of those bad “why did the chicken cross the road?” jokes, but it’s a very common problem among tomato growers. It’s frustrating to wait for a tomato, and then, when it’s finally ripe, to discover that its split in the last day or so.
Splitting is caused by irregular moisture in the soil. So, if you’ve been keeping your tomatoes on the dry side (as some gardeners do because they swear that the flavor is better when tomatoes are grown in drier conditions) and then you get a good, soaking rain, any tomatoes that are nearly ripe will usually split due to the influx of extra water.
Splitting can also happen if you do a good job of keeping the soil moisture level fairly even, and then you get a big rain storm.
You can still eat split tomatoes, but be sure to eat them the same day you harvest them — once they split they absolutely will not store well. Even if you’re not planning on eating the split tomatoes, be sure to harvest them and toss them in your compost pile — split, rotting tomatoes will turn your garden into a smelly mess in no time.
It happens to the best of us. Mulching your soil and watering regularly goes a long way toward reducing the likeliness of splitting, but Ma Nature is in charge, and if she decides to dump a few inches of rain on your garden all at once, there’s not a whole lot you can do about it. There are some hybrids that are supposedly resistant to splitting, but any tomato will split if they get an influx of moisture when they’ve reached full size and near-ripeness.
Throughout the month of October, I’ll be writing all about my favorite garden topic …. tomatoes! I hope you’ll join me! You can check out the other 31 Dayers here.