(Lycopersicon lycopersicum) Indeterminate. Heirloom. If we could only grow one tomato, it would likely be this one! This old Cherokee Indian heirloom is a beefsteak type that yields large tomatoes with a gorgeous purple/rose skin, green shoulders and dark red flesh.
The flavor is rich and juicy with just the right amount of sweetness. Each tomato weighs about 10-12 oz.
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Tomatoes are many people’s favorite garden vegetable and no garden is complete without them. To get the most out of these delicious heirloom tomatoes, start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost. Be sure to keep the temperature above 70 degrees and water regularly. A seed heating mat can be very helpful for germinating tomato seeds. Sow outside 1-2 weeks before average last frost and when soil temperatures are at least 60°F.
Provide tomato seedlings with plenty of light, either from a south-facing window or grow light overhead. Lack of adequate light will make seedlings leggy and weak.
When the second set of leaves, the first true leaves, appear, transplant your seedlings to individual pots and bury the stems deeper than they stood previously. Any part of the stem that is buried will produce additional roots that will help the plant grow strong and sturdy quickly.
Just prior to planting them in your garden, "harden them off" by bringing them outside during the daytime and for increasing hours, until you are leaving them out overnight. If frost is predicted, bring them indoors.
When transplanting tomatoes to the garden, make the planting holes larger than normal for each seedling (about twice the size of the roots) and amend the soil with compost. Tomatoes are heavy feeders and can also benefit from the addition of bonemeal and bloodmeal when planting. We also add a teaspoon of Epsom salts to each plant to provide magnesium, which helps promote vitality and productivity as well as reduce blossom end rot.
Fertilize on a regular basis. Early applications should be high in nitrogen. As blossoming occurs, switch to fertilizers that are higher in Phosphorus and Potassium. Too much Nitrogen at this point will result in lush green leaves, but little fruit.
Keep your tomato plant well watered. Deep watering is preferable, over more frequent, light watering. You want moisture to go deep to all the roots of the plant. Water directly to the roots. Keep water off the leaves if at all possible. Tomatoes are susceptible to plant diseases and pests that thrive in wet, humid conditions.
Tomato plants are vines, and they have two basic ways of growing: determinate and indeterminate. Determinate varieties grow to a certain size (usually 1’ - 5’) and then set all their fruit more or less at once. Determinate varieties may be a better choice for smaller gardens and containers. Because the fruit sets all at once, these are usually a great choice for canning. Indeterminate varieties are larger plants that grow and produce fruit continually until the first fall frost (up to 20’ long vines!). Indeterminate varieties can be enjoyed all season provided they remain healthy and have enough nutrients. Pruning is recommended with indeterminate varieties to help the plant put more energy into producing fruit rather than vine production.
Harvest tomatoes when they are fully colored and firm. If you have a lot of green tomatoes near the end of the season, clip all the new blossoms and any undersized fruit off the plant. This will help to put all the plant’s remaining energy into ripening what’s left. Green tomatoes can also be brought inside to ripen indoors in a sunny window or used to make green tomato salsa, fried green tomatoes, and pickled green tomatoes.