Why Your Tomatoes Have Tough Skin - Backyard Boss
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Why Your Tomatoes Have Tough Skin

Imagine you’re in your garden and seeing the most beautiful tomatoes. They’re red and ripe and look perfect. But when you pick them up, you realize their skin is tough and leathery.

Is there anything more frustrating than planting tomatoes, watching them grow tall and strong, and then having the skins be so tough that you can’t eat them? You’re not alone in this frustration since many gardeners have to deal with tough-skinned tomatoes as well.

But what’s the reason for this pesky problem? And more importantly, is there anything you can do about it? Read on to find out!

Extreme Temperatures 

Image credits: Couleur via Pixabay

One of the most common reasons your tomatoes have tough skin is excessive heat. If you expose your tomatoes to extreme temperatures, their skins will toughen up to protect themselves. It is completely normal, and there’s no need to worry.

However, if you want to avoid tough-skinned tomatoes, there are a few things you can do. First, make sure to water your plants regularly. It will help them stay cool and hydrated during hot summer days. Finally, it wouldn’t hurt to mulch! Tomatoes are warm weather crops and could benefit from synthetic mulch.


Tomato sunscald
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If you’re a tomato lover, there’s nothing quite like a ripe, juicy fruit straight from the vine. However, if your tomatoes are subject to sunscald, they may not be as delicious as you’d hope. Sunscald can make the skins on your tomatoes tough and can ruin the taste of otherwise perfect fruit.

Sunscald is a condition that affects tomatoes when you expose them to too much direct sunlight. The high temperatures cause the skin to break down, leading to a loss of moisture and flavor.

There are a few simple ways to prevent sunscald on your tomatoes:

  • Plant tomatoes in an area that receives partial shade for part of the day.
  • Use a tomato cage or trellis to support the plants and keep the fruit off the ground.
  • Cover the plants with a lightweight fabric such as a piece of cloth when temperatures are especially high.
  • Mulching the soil with straw mulch can decrease soil dehydration.
  • Water regularly to keep the plants from drying out.

Different Varieties

Roma Tomatoes
Image credits: David Will via Pixabay

Some tomato types have tough skin because they have been bred that way. Tough skin is helpful for canning and preserving tomatoes. Additionally, some varieties, such as Roma and Plum, have thick skin to prevent cracking.


Watering the garden
Image credits: David Ballew via Unsplash

Underwatering can also cause tomatoes to have thick skin. It happens when the plant isn’t getting enough water, so it tries to conserve what it can. The result is a tomato with a tough outer layer. While this may not seem like a big deal, it can make the fruit more difficult to eat. So, if you’re growing tomatoes for your consumption, give them plenty of water!

How To Properly Care For Your Tomato Plants

Plant Them In The Right Spot

Young woman farmer in tomato greenhouse looking at vegetable tomato uses magnifying glass. Close Up of Vegetable Tomato Scientist woman Look Magnifying Glass in Greenhouse.
Image credits: mariyaermolaeva via Shutterstock

Tomatoes like lots of sunshine, so make sure you plant them in a spot that gets at least eight hours of direct sunlight per day. They also prefer soil that is loose and well-drained, so if your soil is heavy or clay-like, amend it with some compost or other organic matter before planting.

Water Them Regularly (But Not Too Much)

Watering newly planted tomatoes and potted basil growing in a container garden
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You need to water tomatoes regularly, especially when they are fruiting. However, you don’t want to overdo it as that can lead to problems like root rot. Water your plants deeply about once a week, or more often if they are in pots or the weather is very hot and dry.

Feed Them a Balanced Diet

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Tomatoes are heavy feeders, so they will appreciate a bi-weekly dose of fertilizer if you grow them in containers. If you have your tomatoes in the garden, apply fertilizer every four weeks or so during the growing season.

Support Them Properly

Positive man gardener picking harvest of fresh tomatoes in garden
Image credits: BearFotos via Shutterstock

As tomatoes grow and produce fruit, they can get top-heavy and start to fall over. To prevent this, you will need to provide some type of support for them. You can do this by staking, trellising, or planting them in cages.

Prune Them As Needed

a young girl takes care of vegetables in the garden, prunes with scissors, forms bushes, prunes shoots and tall tomato bushes
Image credits: Uryupina Nadezhda via Shutterstock

To keep your tomato plants healthy and productive, it’s a good idea to do some selective pruning. Remove any dead or diseased leaves or branches, and prune off any suckers that form on the stems below the fruits.

In Summary

Have you ever had trouble with the tomatoes’ skins being tough and inedible? You’re not alone. Many gardeners have to deal with this issue as well. There are many reasons that can cause tough tomato skins, such as extreme temperatures, too much direct sunlight, or underwatering.

However, there are things you can do to help prevent it! Keeping your plants hydrated, mulching around the soil with straw, and covering them when the temperatures get too high can greatly improve your tomato crop! 

Do you have any tips or tricks that have worked for you? Let us know in the comments below!