One day’s harvest of heirloom tomatoes in August. Joy!
This is the second year I’ve attempted to grow tomatoes from seed. I amassed a great collection of heirloom seeds over the last several years so with the help of my co-gardener, Terry, we planted two trays of tomato seeds on March 31. With grow lights, heat mats and close attention, we had an amazing rate of germination. After weeks of splitting dozens of seedlings, we are faced with a huge surplus of beautiful tomato plants. I can reasonably plant about 80 at Rosedale, the donation garden at St. Philip and at home but would like to find homes for the rest.
The tomatoes were seeded to be ready for planting after the last frost date in Denver — around May 20.
If you’re interested in acquiring tomato plants, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I have about 80 to spare so quantities are limited. You can reserve specific ones if they are paid for by the time of my porch sale on May 20. I will have the porch sale on Sunday, May 20 and one at St. Philip’s on May 27. $3 each. Email me for details.
Some tips and info:
- When planting, dig a hole deep enough to bury the tomato up to its top two branches. The extra branches will form roots under the soil. It is OK to bend the plant gently sideways if it is too tall.
- Add bone meal or crushed egg shell (1/4 cup) to add nutrients to the soil.
- Soil temperature should be about 60 degrees. It does no good to put the plants in early — they thrive in warm temperatures.
- Fertilize every 2-3 weeks with high phosphorous organize fertilizer. I use worm tea or bokashi.
- Indeterminate: more commonly known as “vining” tomatoes, can grow anywhere from 6′-10′ tall and will continue to grow, bloom, and set fruit until they are killed by the first frost of the growing season, require lots of staking and pruning of tomato suckers, will form flowers along the sides of the shoots
- Determinate: often grown in a cage or even without support, as it has a more compact shape, also produce most of their fruit on the terminal end, are usually smaller and can be grown in containers. Tend to ripen earlier.
Abraham Lincoln: In 1923 the H.W. Buckbee seed company of Rockford, IL introduces an heirloom variety named in honor of Illinois’ Greatest Son – Abraham Lincoln. This late-season tomato produces large, beautiful, dark red, sweet, and meaty fruits in 87-90 days. Good for Slicing, making tomato juice and ketchup. Plant 18 inches apart in rows 3 ft. apart. Needs staking. Indeterminate.
Amana Orange: One of the tastiest and earliest of the heirloom beefsteaks. Deep orange color and rich flavor make this an all-time favorite. Matures in 85 days. Indeterminate – vigorous vines require tall, sturdy stakes or trellises.
Beefsteak: 9-12 ounce tomato is splendid for slicing. Plants are large and spreading, with medium green broad foliage. Transplant to harvest: 55-60 days. Needs inch of water each week.
Black Krim: Beautiful, dark purple=black fruits have rich, old-fashioned flavor with a hint of smokiness. Reliable and very productive. This Russian heirloom originated in Krim, a Crimean town on the the Black Sea. Baseball-sized fruits weigh 10-12 oz. ad have reddish-brown flesh filled with an earthy, almost smoky flavor. Fruit sets well in heat and is the most reliable of the black tomatoes, producing even under adverse conditions from summer to fall. Provide support for vines that reach 6 ft. or more. Indeterminate. Matures in 70 days.
Brandywine Red and Yellow Pole: Not the shapeliest tomatoes but their extra large size and outstanding flavor has made them a favorite of tomato lovers for more than 100 years. Beefsteak-type fruits average around a pound but can weigh close to 2 pounds. Yellow Brandywine turns golden yellow when ripe and is meaty with a slightly tart flavor. Red Brandywine has a rich and well-balance tomato flavor. Indeterminate – vines reach 6 feet or more and need staking. 80 days to maturity.
Cherokee Purple – Pole: Cherokee’s rose/purple skin with green shoulders encases red brick colored flesh with just the right level of sweetness. You’ll be harvesting large numbers of 10-12 oz. tomatoes from this well-regarded heirloom vareity from summer to fall. The flavor is tasty, wonderful delicious, heavenly and unbelievable! Provide support for vigorous vines that reach 6′ or more. Indeterminate. Matures in 80 days.
Costoluto Genovese: the Italian heirloom standard for flavorful sauces. Flat, heavily lobed shape with deep, slightly acidic flavor. A popular choice for canning and juicing. Indeterminate – vigorous vines require tall, sturdy stakes or trellises. Best to let ripen on the vine. Matures in 80 days.
Golden Nugget: extra early to ripen and takes the heat all summer long, making it a good choice for hot climates. Abundant golden clusters of mile, sweet 3/4 inch fruit, perfect for snacking straight from the garden. Determinate. Matures in 55-68 days.
Granny Smith Hybrid: Great for fried green tomatoes. Tomatoes stay green, even when ripe! Round, 8-10 ounce fruit are firm and sweet with just a hint of tart flavor. Great for salsa verde or eating right out of the garden. Semi-determinate plants show strong diseases resistance. Support with stakes or tomato cages to keep fruit off the ground. 72 days to maturity.
Hungarian Heart: Said to have originated in a village 20 miles from Budapest around 1900. Huge pink oxheart fruits weigh upwards of one pound. Very few seeds and almost no cracking. A favorite for eating, canning and for making roasted tomato sauce. Indeterminate. 85 days to maturity.
Lemon Boy Hybrid: Bright yellow fruits make an eye=catching display when sliced with red tomatoes. Deep, sweet flavor. Indeterminate. 72 days to maturity.
Marglobe VF: Heirloom, 1925. Fruits are red, medium-sized 5-8 oz. with firm walls and good flavor. Plants are stocky, vigorous, and have excellent disease resistance. Determinate. 70 days to maturity.
Mortgage Lifter: This old-timer produces one pound, meaty tomatoes with few seeds. Well-shaped fruits with dark pink skins. 90 days to maturity. Indeterminate.
Oxheart: Also known as “cuore di bue” is so named because of its shape. An heirloom variety popular in Italy and France because it is dense with few seeds, cooking down to a robust, think sauce. It can also be a star sliced fresh atop salad greens or paired with mozzarella and fresh basil leaves. 85 days to maturity.
Red Cherry Large: Luscious clusters of bright red one and a half inch gems. Prolific bushy plant. Let fruit ripen on the fine for best flavor. Matures in 75 days.
Roma VF: America’s most popular vegetable. Indeterminate. An old-time plum type tomato on a compact plant. 65 days to maturity from transplant.
Pineapple: Stunning and high-yielding variety. These beautiful tomatoes ripen to a yellow-orange accented with hints red that go through the solid, meaty interior of the fruit. Large beefsteak type fruits don’t have a lot of seeds but are filled with complex tomato flavor with a hint of fruitiness that’s just he right balance of sweet and tangy. Adds eye=catching color to salads, sandwiches and salsas. Indeterminate. Provide support for the tall plants and their heavy fruits. 90 days from transplanting.
San Marzano: Want to know the secret of the real Italian cooks? San Marzano tomatoes! This is the authentic Italian past tomato. Its superb flavor is enjoyed both in fresh sauces and processed for later use. Great for dried tomatoes, too! 80 days to maturity from transplanting. Indeterminate.
Steak: Bushy plants. Indeterminate. Sandwich slicing. Indeterminate. 70 days to maturity.
Supersweet 100: Garden fresh flavor in every bite=sized gem. Each beautiful ruby red fruit is exceptionally sweet. Very prolific plants producing hundreds of tomatoes. Disease resistance to verticullium and fusarium wilt. Provide support for vigorous vines that easily reach 6 feet. 65 days from transplanting. Indeterminate.
Tricolor Cherry – Garden Candy: Bite sized, beautiful and early bearing, these 3 different colored cherries are the sweetest of all tomatoes and yield abundant harvests in all climates. Mixed seed packet offers orange Sungold, bright yellow Sweet Gold and rich red Supersweet 100. Mature height 5-7 feet, transplant to harvest: 65 days.
Repotting the seedlings on May 8. Two trays have multiplied into 10. More than we can plant! Tomatoes are growing bigger everyday and will be ready on May 20!