When we speak of a beefsteak tomato cultivar, we’re really talking about a family of tomatoes. These huge varieties produce the largest fruit of all tomatoes. By definition, beefsteak tomatoes weigh a pound or more, with some varieties producing fruit weighing over two pounds. This guide on how to grow beefsteak tomatoes will have you growing huge ones, too!
Many say beefsteak tomatoes produce the perfect sandwich tomato, as one slice covers the entire sandwich.
Did You Know? While they are popular in the home garden, Beefsteak tomatoes are not popular as a commercially grown crop.
The most common varieties are Beefmaster, Beefsteak, Brandywine, Mortgage Lifter, Oh Heart, and Cherokee Purple.
Vigorous, indeterminate plants produce an abundance of extra-large fruits. Healthy vines will produce up to frost.
Days to Maturity: 80-90 from setting out plants into the garden.
Good tasting, large to extra-large fruit, in many colors. The fruit often is ribbed and contains numerous seed compartments. Fruits weigh from 1 to 2 pounds.
They are excellent for slicing, sandwiches, salads, or eating fresh from your home garden.
Tomato plants are usually started indoors. Planting tomato seeds is an exciting time. It is one of the very first gardening projects of the year. After a long winter, you are itching to get your hands back into some “dirt”.
Begin starting tomato seeds indoors in small containers, eight to ten weeks before the last frost date for your area. Sow tomato seeds about 1/8″ inch deep, using seed starting soil. Seeds will sprout in 10-14 days, depending upon soil temperature. Sprouting tomato seeds is quicker and more productive when using a heated germination mat.
As soon as the seedlings emerge, they need full sunlight to grow sturdy. Lack of sunlight causes the plants to grow “leggy”. Use grow lights to supplement the amount of available sunlight.
Tip: To help your plants grow sturdy, place a small fan on low nearby. Or, lightly brush the tops of the plants with your hands a couple of times each day.
Learn all about growing monster tomatoes:
Tomato Cages and Staking – Maximize your crop, and minimize disease and insect damage, by staking or caging tomato plants. Above all, beefsteak tomato plants will benefit. They will reward you with more tomatoes. The fruit will be cleaner, as they will not be sitting on the soil. More on staking tomatoes.
Beefsteak tomatoes require 80-90 days from transplanting outdoors to produce the first fruit.
Days to harvest (or maturity) are counted from the time tomato plants are set out into the garden. The range is broad, as there are many varieties. Generally, cherry tomatoes ripen first, followed by early varieties. Beefsteak tomatoes require the longest days to maturity.
The race is always on in my neighborhood to get the first ripe tomato of the season. Most of us also grow and await the beefsteaks. One slice from these delicious beauties more than fills a sandwich.
Tomato plants can experience insect problems with tomato hornworms, cutworms, and a few other garden pests. Also, if not staked or caged, snails and slugs will munch on the ripening fruit.
Birds will occasionally peck holes in red fruit.
Did you Know? Tomato plants emit a mild toxin that discourages many small insects from bothering them. This toxin can also cause skin itching and irritation.
Tip: Borage plants can be used as companion plants, to deter Tomato hornworms
Did you Know? Tomato plants (not the fruit) are used to make an organic insect repellent. See Tomato “Juice” Spray
Several plant problems can arise, usually in the mid-summer heat and humidity. Blights and fungus infections can occur in high humidity. Early treatment with fungicides is effective. Spacing plants too close cuts down air circulation and promotes disease.
Blossom end rot can also affect the fruit. This is a round, brown, indented spot on the bottom of the tomato. It is caused by either uneven watering or a lack of calcium in the soil. More on Blossom End Rot.
Tip: Do not water at night if possible in hot and humid weather if possible. Moisture and humidity combined with high temperatures promote plant diseases. If possible, water at the roots.
Tomatoes like it hot! They will die if exposed to frost. Make sure to plant them after the last frost.
Tip#1: Cover your young seedling if frost is predicted. A simple and easy cover for small seedlings is to buy large or extra large plastic disposable cups. Place them over the seedling at dusk, and remove them in the morning. It is usually little or no wind on nights with frost, so they are not easily tipped over.
Tip#2: If you get a light frost overnight and you did not cover up your plants. Go out early before the sun rises, and spray your plants with the garden hose. This melts the ice off the plants and may save them.
Tomatoes store well in a cool, dry location. Do not put them in the refrigerator. While they last longer in the refrigerator, they will lose their flavor and texture. Keep them out of direct sunlight.
Just before frost, pick tomatoes while they are still green or orange. Wash them thoroughly. Rinse in a light solution of 1 gallon of water and a tablespoon of bleach. This kills off bacteria that rot the fruit. Allow them to dry, then put them in a cool, dry, dark place.
To ripen tomatoes indoors, bring a couple at a time to a warm, sunny window.
Tomato Canning Guidelines – Information on canning tomatoes and other vegetables.
Are tomatoes a fruit or a vegetable? It’s a frequently asked question. While we all grow tomatoes in our vegetable garden, they are classified as a fruit. The U.S. Congress debated this in 1893.
May we suggest:
Fried Green Tomatoes – It’s a great way to use up those end-of-season tomatoes that didn’t ripen before frost.
When making large amounts of juice or sauce, you will need a tomato strainer and sauce maker, to easily remove seeds and skin. See Tomato Strainers.
On the Light Side: See Tomato Trivia
Tomato Mania – In-depth information and advice from Garden Hobbies
Problems with Tomatoes – To begin with, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure