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Bother. My tomatoes have gone and split on me.

This, of course, is my own silly fault. Tomatoes split for just one reason: the water content of the fruit has been allowed to fall, then all of a sudden someone has come along and guiltily overcompensated with the hose, so flooding the fruits with water. Result: the skins have to expand so rapidly to accommodate all that extra moisture that they can’t cope, and they split. It’s not the end of the world – you can still eat them, though you have to be quick about it before the mould sets in. But it is very annoying.

Splitting (along with blossom end rot, caused by a similar set of circumstances) is a daily risk you run outdoors: you have no control over rainfall of course (I wish) so a sudden downpour after a drought produces exactly the right conditions to split all your fruit. In a greenhouse under cover, where these were grown, there’s simply no excuse. Except bone idleness on the part of a hose-shy gardener, of course.

Some tomato varieties are resistant to splitting: ‘Maskotka’, ‘Terenzo’ and ‘Orkado’ are just three of those which take longer to give way than others, so they’re very well worth trying outdoors given our current yo-yoing weather conditions.

But generally I find tomatoes resistant to splitting have thick, chewy skins – partly no doubt what helps them put up with inconsistent water levels without cracking. And I do like a tomato with a thin skin.

The ones in the pic are ‘Suttons Everyday’, a 1930s heirloom cultivar I was given to try out along with a lot of other heirloom tomatoes. It’s a fine tomato: medium sized, good flavour, great all-rounder as the name would suggest: and with lovely thin skins, which need careful handling if they’re to stay intact.

The current plan is to install automatic watering next year: I have my eye on the Irrigatia solar-powered pump, which works out of a water butt and sensibly powers its battery only when the sun is out and you need the extra water. Inspired. I shall report back, so watch this space.

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