How to Successfully Grow Heirloom Tomato
In the world of gardening, there are so many names that we come across and in some cases, we wonder about them and why they are called what they are called in this case it’s the heirloom tomato. What are heirloom tomatoes and why are they given that name?
Heirloom tomatoes are classified as tomatoes that are produced from seeds that are at least 50 years old, with great flavors that come in various shapes and colors. These non-hybrids which are open-pollinated are less disease resistant and have a shorter shelf life.
The heirloom tomato is a real treat that will give that added flavor besides the health benefits you will be getting so if you’re interested in growing heirloom tomatoes then stick around as we show you step by step how to grow, care for and harvest heirloom tomatoes.
How to Grow Heirloom Tomatoes
The area or location for your heirloom tomatoes should be an area that gets full sunlight so take advantage of that sunny location to produce tomatoes that are beautiful, healthy, and delicious.
A plant like the heirloom tomatoes requires soil that is rich with organics and is well-drained. Soil such as a good compost will encourage the roots to run deep. The ph range is slightly acidic from 6.0 t0 6.8
Keeping your heirloom tomatoes well-watered is very critical especially when they start to fruit. A word of caution here what you don’t want is the soil to be saturated or waterlogged which will encourage root rot but soil that is moist at all times will contribute to a deep root system.
Plant nutrients are a must because these nutrients are the building blocks of a plant’s life, the use of synthetic or manmade fertilizers which can be an all-purpose balanced nutrient will help. What I prefer however is to use organics when it comes to food crops, when using synthetics read and follow the manufacture’s label.
Garden insect pests of heirloom tomatoes
Garden plant pests to keep an eye out for
- Spider mites
- Flea beetles
- Blister beetles
- Slugs and Snails
- Tomato fruit worms
The leafhopper not only feeds on the plant’s sap but spreads disease. The leafhopper is a hopping insect as the name says and is a tiny pale green wedge shape pest. The leaves of garden plants which is attack by this insect curls. To control these garden pests a strong spray of water will eliminate them or the use of floating row cover will work. Applying insecticidal will also help.
Aphids are tiny pear-shaped insects that also cause damage by sucking the plant’s sap and excreting a sticky substance known as honeydew which encourages sooty mold. A strong spray of water or the use of insecticidal soap will bring them under control.
The spider mite is also a very ting insect that causes damage, signs show up as webbing of the leaves along with the leaves taking on a dusty appearance. These tiny insects suck the plant’s sap causing injury, to bring these garden pests under control keep your plants well-watered along with minimizing the number of nitrogen fertilizers which is used. The use of soap sprays will bring them under control.
Cutworms forms into a c shape under the soil, these worms which are once inching in size will do damage. Control cutworms by either tilling the garden soil in early spring which will expose them causing freezing, spreading bone meal around your tomatoes.
Flea beetles are a tiny dark brown metallic garden pest that eats holes in the leaves which will cause plant stunting and can also kill your tender plants. Keep the area free of weeds which encourages them, also the use of insecticidal soap will bring them under control.
The blister beetle is either striped, black, red, or gray and medium size. These beetles can cause great damage, handpicking and throwing them into a bucket of soapy water will eliminate them.
The wireworm feeds on the underground stem and roots of garden plants, symptoms include stunted growth of plants along with less crop yield. Tilling the soil will bring them to the surface where they will be eaten by birds also planting resistant varieties is a good choice.
Crop rotation will help greatly, mulch your tomato bed to keep them from coming in contact with the soil, also inspecting and disposing of seeds which are infected will be of great benefit.
Slugs and Snails
Slugs and snails are a garden pest which will eat holes in the leaves and the fruits, these pests can really do much damage. Hand-picking them will bring them under control, also the use of snail baits has proven to be helpful. The use of eggshells is a great way to keep them at bay while adding nutrients to the soil.
Whiteflies are tiny white insects that will encourage sooty mold, these garden insect pests feed on the plant’s sap. To bring whiteflies under control insecticidal soap will prove effective. Hand-picking will also help.
Tomato fruit worms
Tomato fruit worms tunnel through the fruit and feed on the leaves of tomatoes, the tomato fruit worm is striped yellow to grayish and are two inches long. The use of bacillus thuringiensis will control this garden pest.
Diseases of heirloom tomatoes
There are many diseases that can hinder you from reaping a great harvest, but identifying these diseases and taking the proper measures will keep your tomato plant in the best shape ever as you eat the fruits of your labor.
Temperatures play an important part in having success when growing heirloom tomatoes, in order for your tomatoes to produce full and healthy fruits the day time temperature can be anywhere from 65-85 degrees Fahrenheit with night time being at least 60 degrees.
Humidity condition is not a big factor when it comes to growing heirloom tomatoes.
Harvesting your heirloom tomatoes
Now comes the fun part and that is reaping the fruits of your labor, when the time comes to harvest your tomatoes look for tomatoes that are fully red if growing and harvesting a variety that produces a different color at maturity then wait until the color is full before picking.
If tomatoes have fallen from the vine place them in a paper bag in a cool dark place. Don’t ever place tomatoes on a sunny window sill to get ripe because they may rot.
A great way to grow and harvest tomatoes are by propagation, the sucker shoot on the tomato plant is what you will cut. These shoots should not have any buds, with a sharp pruner cut the new growth or sucker 6-8 inches at the tip of the branch.
The cuttings can be planted directly into good potting soil, cuttings can also be placed in water and will produce roots within a week or so but it’s better if placed in good garden soil as mention.
Container grown heirloom tomatoes
Growing heirloom tomatoes from containers is a great way to the garden because with these types of gardens you are more able to better manage your food crops. When deciding to grow tomatoes from containers the first step in the right direction is in choosing the right container.
The container or containers which are chosen should be large enough for your tomato plant to grow comfortably, plastic containers should be the first choice because plants that are planted in clay containers the soil tends to dry out much quicker. A container size of 10 gallons or larger is a great choice. The container should have drain holes to allow water to escape after you give your tomato plant a drink. The soil should be moist at all times and not waterlogged as discussed earlier.
The soil should be and organic-rich soil that holds the right amount of water but will allow excess water to drain. Locate an area that gets full sunlight and place your container in that area. Keep your container protected from strong winds, strong winds can cause the container to topple over or cause injury to your tomato plant.
For food crops, I prefer to use organics when it comes to feeding because organics are safer in my opinion but if using synthetics or manmade a slow-release will help. Before using synthetics read and follow the manufacture’s label.
When attempting to grow heirloom tomatoes some variety is easier to grow than others, determine varieties are easy to grow not requiring a trellis or stalk, reaching heights of 3-4 ft.
The determined varieties will produce all of their fruits in periods of 2-3 weeks, determine varieties are great for beginners.
Names of the heirloom tomato variety
Here are a few varieties you may like.
1. Mortgage Lifter.
2. Mexico Midget.
3. Green Gaint.
4. Cherokee Purple.
5. Anna Russian.
6. Ferris Wheel.
7. Amish Paste.
8. Dwarf Emerald Gaint.
10. Cherokee Chocolate.
12. Lucky Cross.
The final word
Growing the heirloom tomato is not hard it’s a matter of getting the know-how and you will be on your way to growing and successfully harvesting your heirloom tomatoes. Enjoy that garden salad or prepare those delicious meals with these tomatoes grown from your home garden. Go ahead and plant some you will be so happy that you did.