Homegrown fresh tomatoes are, for some, one of the best things to come out of summer. Many gardeners watch their tomato plants all summer, waiting for the day when that first tomato can be picked and eaten. But, at times, that first bite can bring disappointment instead of joy when the tomato has a mushy, soft texture instead of the expected firm, juicy taste. Growing techniques, plants and over-watering can all impact a tomato.
Type of Plant
Some varieties of tomatoes are just naturally mushier than others. The New York Times notes that more and more gardeners are leaning toward old-fashioned tomato plants that tend to be softer and bruise much easier. Tomatoes including the Jenny Lind and the Mr. Eliason used to be harder to find because they are not able to be used commercially, but the plants are making a comeback and, if you mistakenly purchase one of these, your tomatoes will be mushy. To combat this, make sure you know the properties of the type of tomato you purchase before you plant it.
The tomato plant loves heat and flourishes in warm environments. You should not plant your tomatoes until the soil temperature has reached 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit and your air temperatures are not falling below 60 degrees. If you plant your tomatoes and then have a cold spell, cover the plants with a sheet, newspaper or other protective item. If your tomatoes get too cold, the insides can break down, resulting in a mushy tomato.
Tomatoes, like any plant, need water to grow, but too much water can make the tomatoes mushy, and too little water can cause the tomatoes to rot. A good rule of thumb, according to the How to Garden Guide website, is to water your tomatoes when the top inch of soil is dry. This normally equates to 1 inch of water once a week in the summer. Water your plants in the morning and water the roots, or ground, not the plants.
Once you've grown the perfect tomato, you can still end up with a mushy result due to improper storage. Tomatoes like warmth and should not be kept in the refrigerator, if at all possible. The cold can cause a chemical in the tomato to disappear, which results in a mushy tomato. Tomatoes are best stored on the kitchen counter, in a basket, with the stem facing upward.