Post # 121 Why Do Tomatoes Split?

May 29, 2013 at 3:50 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 121 Why Do Tomatoes Split?

And other garden trivia.  My garden has exploded recently.  I don’t know why, but there it is.  For some reason, none of my herb seeds sprouted except the cilantro.  If I had to make choice, it would have been the cilantro cuz we all love cilantro in this house.  It’s also called coriander and has a unique, spicy flavor that goes perfectly with Mexican foods.  My sister told me that typically around here cilantro will grow well, get harvested, then die.  Only one good harvest.  Since it spoils so quickly, I think I’m going to wait until just before it blossoms, when it’s still tender and most tasty.  Then I’ll harvest all of it, use some of it for whatever is going on at the moment, then pull out my food dehydrator and dry out the rest.  I’ve also got a monster huge basil plant that I’m going to freeze in ice cubes to add to sauces and soups.  My tricolor sage is beautiful, but not too tasty, so I may end up putting that into a hanging planter and seeing where it goes.  I planted a small oregano plant, and two small basil plants and they’ve only just recovered from the whole transplant scenario.  They’ve started growing and looking like they’re interested in what’s going on so I’m just watching and approving right now.

I’ve already harvest the entire first crop of radishes.  They grew fast and got eaten fast.  This weekend, I’m going to week out that section of the garden to save the carrots, and plant another two or three rows of radishes.  I’m not all that fond of them, but the others are.  The beans have grown very high and I’m waiting for that crop to start.  It should be within another week.  That’ll be difficult to keep my hands off of.  I love fresh raw green beans straight from the garden.  And my pepper plants are making peppers like crazy.  I can’t wait to pull some of them off the plant and make poppers.  My sweet peas don’t seem to be doing anything.  I planted ten, but only five sprouted.  Two of them died and the other three look rather dispirited, like they don’t want to try.  I moved them so they only get a couple of hours of sun (the sun in the desert can be FIERCE) and that seemed to help, but they still look lackluster.  I put some sticks in the pot near them so they have something to climb on.  I was hoping they’d be much higher by now, but Whaddaya gonna do?  I’ll keep them until they all give up the ghost then go on to something else.

All the flowers and mints and shrubs are doing great.  We transplanted a Texas Ranger Sage into the front yard, and about two weeks ago it exploded into a mass of purple flowers at the same time as all the others in the neighborhood.  My neighbor said that means it’s happy where it is.  I also moved the jasmine to an area where it gets morning sun, but is shaded from about noon on and it’s growing wild.  The honeysuckle is about to take over the corner of the covered sitting area where it’s at.  So all in all, it seems the plants are happy.  Even the asparagus fern hanging in the front had a mass of tiny white flowers on it.  I’ve never seen ferns bloom before but this was pretty.

So what else is left to talk about?  Hmm, oh, yeah!  The tomatoes.  Well!  I don’t know what happened, but suddenly those things have run rampant over their quarter of the garden.  Even the little seedlings that I gave up on have grown lush and green and have blossoms on them!  They’re still small and stunted, but they sure want to be real tomato plants.  I’ve already harvested many vine ripened tomatoes and enjoyed them immensely.  Of course, they never made it past the garden fence.  Luckily, I only have to fight the father in law for them.  I had given my sister two of the seedlings and hers are doing great.  They’re tall and strong and have dozens of blossoms on them.  The Roma tomatoes started off looking a little sickly, but now look great.  I ate one already, and there are about a dozen turning the palest shade of orange.  If I can manage it, in about a week they’ll be ripe and ready for the table.  I tend to pick and eat long before then, though.

One of the goliath tomatoes had a large tomato on it when we brought it home from the nursery.  I planted that and watched it to make sure it didn’t fall off the vine or anything.  When the plants started growing so lushly (They’re nearly three and half feet high now and very bushy)(yes, they’re in a tomato vine support crate) I lost sight of the tomato until it started to ripen.  I picked it today, thinking it would be perfect.  It’s not.  The top has three large splits from the vine end and running about an inch down the side.  Except one which run almost all the way down the side to the blossom end.  I hate it when a tomato gets those cracks cuz it makes me feel like the tomato has gone bad and I hate to give up even one of them.  So I went to the trusty internet and asked the question Why Do Tomatoes Split?  I found out that it was all due to water.  I suspected that since they are a fruit after all, and when they’re fully ripe, they are incredibly juicy.  What happens is that unequal watering leads to this.  In the nursery, since this particular tomato was born there, it got watered only every other day or so.  Back then, it was okay because summer hadn’t started and the pots didn’t dry out so quickly.  When I took it home and planted it in the garden, I started watering it every single day and with plenty of water.  And now, with summer heat fully on us (we’ve already busted the hundred degree mark several times)(and no remarks about “it’s a dry heat”) I’ve been watering twice a day.  Tomatoes and mint are water hogs.  Plus, many of my plants are in containers which dry out faster than the ground does.  What happens is when water is not plentiful, the tomato will create a thicker skin to hold in the moisture.  It will grown at a slow rate since the thicker skin expands slowly.  When it gets more water, the inside will grow faster than that outside resulting in the split.  If you catch the fruit before the crack reaches the inside, you’re okay.  Pull the fruit and let it ripen on a window sill.  Like all fruit, warmth hastens ripening while cold slows it down.  So don’t store unripe fruit in the fridge unless you don’t want it to complete it’s ripening phase.  So now, this great big tomato that fills my hand is sitting on the windowsill in the laundry room where I can watch it hourly and determine when it will be perfect for eating.

Then I will eat it, probably not share it, and let the juice run over my chin as I think about sunshine, hard work, and the flavor of a garden fresh tomato.

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