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Hardiness Zone: 6a
Peter from Silver Spring, MD
You could be seeing Graywall (also called Blotchy Ripening) on your tomatoes. This tomato malady usually develops on green tomatoes located near the interior of plants with a lot of dense foliage. Classic symptoms include a grayish appearance present on the outer skin of the tomato that is caused by a collapse of the inner wall tissue. If you cut the tomatoes open, you will also see greenish or brownish tissue internally, usually near the outer walls of the fruit. The tomatoes are slow to ripen, and when they do, they develop a blotchy appearance.
Graywall is a bit of a mystery. Plant scientists are unsure exactly what causes this disease, but several theories abound. Graywall seems to occur more frequently during cloudy, cool, wet weather. It's also thought that high amounts of nitrogen can contribute to the problem, and soil containing adequate amounts of potassium may help reduce the likelihood of its occurrence. The best way to prevent it is to try to create the best growing conditions possible.
Tomato plants should receive plenty of sun (including sunlight to their interior foliage). They also need to receive consistent water and fertilizer, meaning not too much, and not too little. Try reducing the amount of fertilizer you're using. If your soil is full of nutrient-rich compost, fertilizing them as often as every two weeks with Miracle Grow shouldn't be necessary. Next year you also might try growing cultivars known to be resistant to tobacco or tomato mosaic virus, both of which have been implicated in some cases of Graywall.
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My tomato plants look great, and they are loaded with blossoms. The plants themselves are growing higher by the day, but I have some tomatoes on the plants that seem to have stopped growing. The tomatoes are not turning red and they look hard. What have I done wrong?
Hardiness Zone: 8aKayla from Dry Prong, LA
In my experience they take a long time to ripen on the vine. Lots of people pick off the green ones, and let them ripen in the house. This doesn't really seem to affect the flavor much. Here in northern Sask, we have a short growing season, so have to do this with the last of our tomatoes all the time, to avoid frost. It is best to let them ripen in a cardboard box or bowl lined with paper towel, at room temp, or slightly cooler. Don't put them on the window sill. Don't cover with plastic or anything. Make sure they are dry, and dirt free so you don't get any mold.