How to Grow Rutgers Tomato Plants

Tomato Plant 01

About Rutgers Tomato Plants

You’ll find Rutgers tomato plants growing in home gardens all around the world. Once the most popular tomato variety in the world, it is still among the best and most reliable tomato plants. And, its flavor is excellent, too.  So, if you’ve never tried it before, read this guide on “How to Grow Rutgers Heirloom Tomato Plants” Then, buy some Rutgers tomato seeds and get growing!

The Rutgers tomato is a superior heirloom tomato variety. It was once the top-performing commercial variety in the world. As a result of its sweet flavor, it is still very popular in the home garden.

Rutgers tomatoes are a mid-season, maincrop variety with good flavor.  It is a reliable and excellent producer. Hence, its popularity in the home garden.

The original cultivar was a determinate plant. An indeterminate variety was developed. So, if the plant habit is important to you, check the seed package.

Botanical Name: Lycopersicon lycopersicum

Tomato Flaticon

Rutgers Heirloom Tomato Description

Vigorous, indeterminate plants grow up to 6 feet tall. Strong, healthy vines, with heavy foliage, will produce up to frost.

Rutgers tomatoes have a pleasing flavor, smooth skin with no cracking, and a firm, uniform flesh. The heavy foliage reduces sun scald.

The round to slightly flattened globe shaped fruit, grows to about 10 ounces.

Rutgers tomatoes are great for eating fresh, canning, sauces, catsup, and juice.

Growing Tip: Indoor starts need at least 12 hours of full sun light. Provide grow lights as needed.

The History and Origin of Rutgers Tomato Plants

This is a very popular tomato was developed in 1934, at Rutgers University by breeder Lyman Schermerhorn.

It is an Heirloom tomato variety. This means the seed was first cultivated well before the genetic modification of seeds. And the cultivar has remained unaltered.

How to Start Rutgers Heirloom Tomato Seeds

Tomato plants are usually started indoors. Planting Rutgers Heirloom 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 Rutgers 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. 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.

Days to Germination: Seeds will sprout in 10-14 days, depending upon soil temperature.

For a fast and healthy start, we recommend the use of a heated germination mat.

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.

Tomato Flaticon

How to Grow Rutgers Tomato Plants

Tomato Cages and Staking Plants

Maximize your crop, and minimize disease and insect damage, by staking or caging tomato plants. Without a doubt, Rutgers 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.

Plant Maturity and Days to Harvest

Rutgers tomatoes require 70 – 80 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.

Insects and Pests

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.

About Tomato Hornworms

More on Tomato Plant Problems

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

How to Grow Tomatoes - Plant Disease

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.

More on Tomato plant disease

Plant Hardiness

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.

Harvesting and Storing Tomatoes

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.

Garden Tomato Recipes

May we suggest:

Eggplant Tomato Casserole

Lima Bean Tomato Casserole

Tuna Stuffed Tomato

More Tomato Recipes

Our Garden Recipe Collection

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.

How to Grow Tomatoes - Related Articles

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

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