Would thick-skinned tomatoes deter stink bugs?

Residents of the mid-Atlantic states would do almost anything to be rid of stink bugs in the house and in the garden, where they damage tomatoes and other veggies and fruits.

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    Tomatoes are among the favorite garden vegetables that stink bugs attack. A home gardener wonders: Would it lessen the damage if she grew tomatoes with thick skins?
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I've been thinking a lot about stink bugs, based on my experience last summer with the damage they caused. .[See my previous post, Under assault by stink bugs.]

I thought I had a good idea. Maybe we can find tomatoes with thick skins that the stink bugs will not want to bother with. So I contacted a couple of good seed houses and asked them for recommendations.

The one response I got, from Baker Creek Seeds, was interesting. “We do carry some red varieties that were shipping varieties in the past and these seem to have thicker skins. They are: Seattle Best of All, Bonnie Best and Rei Dos Temporoes. (from Portugal). Unfortunately, most heirlooms are bred for the thinner skin. We don't carry it this year, but Porter was also an old variety from Texas that was used for shipping for canning companies.”

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Planning to experiment

As I was thinking about this, I spoke to another gardener, and she reminded me that they go after apples late in the season and they have thicker skins than tomatoes. Yet I seem to remember that the tiny cherry tomatoes with thick skins from Mexico that I grew last year had no damage. Maybe the stinkers didn’t see them.

I’m grateful for the response from Baker Creek and will order those tomatoes to conduct my own amateur experiment. Also, so I can grow a "million" tomatoes – which I love and preserve for winter eating – maybe out-producing the stinkers.

The vagaries of spring weather

Spring came -- and left. Now we in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia are expecting snow. I had planted beets, potatoes, radishes, and poppies. They will be fine, as will the flowering early daffodils and burgundy-red peony growth already visible. I bought several varieties of coral peonies last fall and am excited to see them!

Weather in the 30s F. seems colder after weather in the 50- to 60-degree range. We were used to it before, when nights were routinely in the 20-degree range. Yet the daffodils and forsythia are here to cheer us and remind us that once spring starts, it will keep coming along, in fits and starts.

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Donna Williamson blogs regularly at Diggin' It. She's a master gardener, garden designer, and garden coach. She has taught gardening and design classes at the State Arboretum of Virginia, Oatlands in Leesburg, and Shenandoah University. She’s also the founder and editor of Grandiflora Mid-Atlantic Gardening magazine, and the author of “The Virginia Gardener’s Companion: An Insider’s Guide to Low Maintenance Gardening in Virginia.” She lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. To read more by Donna, click here.

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