How To Solve The Worst Two Tomato Problems

Tomato problems bring more questions than any other vegetable garden issue.

Here are the basics of getting healthy fruit and dealing with problems.

Why Do My Tomatoes Crack All The Time?

Well, yes, tomatoes can crack us up. No? That's not what you meant? OK - try this instead.

Quick Answers

Tomatoes crack (usually) because of changes in watering and weather.

And yes, some varieties are more prone to cracking than others.

The earlier the cracking, the worse the crack will be.

And yes, you can still eat cracked tomatoes.

Causes of Cracks In Tomatoes

A change in the growth rate of the fruit. So if you hold back the water, the fruit tends to toughen up a bit in response and then you pour the water to the plant, the skin can't expand as fast as the plant wants it to - crack.

Wide fluctuations in temperature. This results in the same kind of thing. A period of cool, overcast weather followed by lovely sunny heat is sure to crack fruit that's prone to it.

Plants that are overfed nitrogen are more prone to cracking. So if you over-fertilize, you're creating your own problem.

A little known cause is overwatering where the fruit doesn't have enough leaf cover. In other words, the fruit is sitting out in the full sun versus one in the shade of tomato leaves. The one in the sun will tend to crack before the shaded one. This happens more often with marginal cracking conditions.

Stop Cracking From Happening In The Home Garden

Feed properly.

Water properly

My Tomatoes Have Black Spots On The Bottom

There are typically two main causes of black spots on the bottom of your tomato. We call it blossom end rot btw.

First Fruit Truss Only

If you mainly see the problem on the first fruit truss (the bottom cluster of tomatoes) then it's likely a too-cold temperature problem after planting. The solution here is to plant later or protect your transplants from cool temperatures.

Black Bottoms on Second and Higher Fruit Truss

If you mainly see the problem all over the plant, or sporadically up the plant, it's likely a watering issue.

Tomatoes like their water. A tomato fruit is at least 95% water and if you skimp here, your fruit will show it. When the blossoms are pollinated and start setting fruit, the plant must move calcium to this young fruit. If there is not enough water in the ground to move the calcium then the developing fruit will have a black rotting section on its bottom while the top looks fine.

It is not the lack of calcium in the soil (so adding calcium isn't the solution) but rather the lack of water (or cool temperatures) creating the problem. Regular and deep watering will prevent this.

Can I Add Something To The Soil To Stop This

Yes. Plant later. Water better.

The Internet is so full of B.S. about adding useless things (from pennies to epsom salts to magic fertilizers) the real causes of the problem are lost.

Let me summarize this for you

If only the lowest fruit truss has black bottoms, it was likely cold temperatures.

If it's fruit higher up as well, then it's quite likely a watering problem.

Click Here For Tomato Growing Secrets Ebook

Book cover Gardening Tomatoes

Pop Bottle Watering

I have long recommended cutting the bottom off a large pop bottle, poking a tiny hole in the cap with a hot needle and sinking the cap end into the soil next to the plant.

If the needle hole is just the right size to allow the contents of the bottle to leak out over a 12 hour stretch, then filling the bottle once a day will slowly provide the tomato with all the water it needs in its initial stages.

You may have to add extra water in later stages but that depends on your soil

You can purchase these bottle ends at some retailers now but a hot needle works just as well.

And yes, if you don't drink soda, then any large plastic container (like an old vinegar jug) will do nicely

Tomato Blight

Tomato Blight is a common name for one of three problems. Two of which will let you have some fruit and the third is a plant killer. Here's how to recognize and prevent them.

Click here for full instructions on growing tomatoes as well as some of the myths and crappy Internet advice explained.

Got Tomato Gardening Questions? Here's Where Doug Answers Them