Growing Beefsteak Tomatoes In The Garden:
There are many reasons why one would want to grow beefsteak tomatoes in the garden. One reason could be to enjoy eating them.
Another reason might be for the health benefits they offer. If you have ever eaten a hamburger or hot dog, then you will know what it means to eat meat and dairy products together. Meat contains hormones and antibiotics which can cause cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases. Dairy products contain cholesterol and saturated fat which increase your risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis (bone loss), colon cancer, gallstones and kidney stones. Eating meat or dairy products together increases your chances of getting some type of chronic illness such as heart disease, cancer or diabetes.
The same applies to beefsteak tomatoes. They contain a good amount of protein, vitamins A and C, potassium, calcium and fiber.
Some studies show that beefsteak tomatoes may reduce the risk of certain cancers including colorectal cancer.
Another benefit of growing beefsteak tomatoes in the garden is their ability to produce fruit year round. This makes them ideal for urban gardens where they can thrive without having to be watered much during the summer months.
In fact if grown properly they can even survive drought conditions!
Beefsteak tomatoes can be harvested throughout the year. In milder climates they can be harvested year round.
Some varieties of beefsteak tomatoes have been bred for their cold resistance. This allows them to be harvested during the winter months as well.
When you grow beefsteak tomatoes in the garden, they are easy to grow and maintain. However, there are a few things you should know before starting your garden.
Beefsteak tomatoes need as much sunlight as possible. More the sunlight, faster they will grow and produce fruit.
Ideally, they should be grown outdoors. However, if you choose to grow them indoors then you would need to provide them with additional lighting such as fluorescent lights. Even if you grow them outdoors in your own backyard, they may not produce as much fruit as they would if grown indoors under lights. If no additional lighting is provided, then the beefsteak tomatoes may grow foliage but will not produce as much fruit.
The type of soil or growing medium is very important when growing beefsteak tomatoes. If the soil is not fertile and rich in nutrients, then the tomatoes may turn out to be yellow and flavorless.
Good quality compost should be used in order to provide the best growing environment for your plants. The growing medium should be light and porous to ensure good root development as the plants get bigger.
The ideal temperature for beefsteak tomato plants is between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The soil temperature should be at least 60 degrees before the seeds are planted.
If there are no plans to heat the soil, then it is best to plant your tomato seeds during the late fall or winter months.
The plants should be placed outdoors during the late spring or early summer months when the average daytime temperatures are at least 55 degrees. The soil should be kept moist but not wet.
It is important to water regularly and keep the soil evenly moist.
Watering your beefsteak tomato plants properly is very important if you want to get a good yield. Be sure not to over water them, especially if you are growing them indoors.
If the plants are growing indoors, you will need to make sure that the soil is moist at all times. The best way to do this is to use a irrigation system. You can also water the plants with a watering can with a thin nozzle. This will ensure that the soil does not become waterlogged.
Fertilizing beefsteak tomatoes helps them grow big and strong while producing bigger fruits. However, you do not want to over fertilize them.
This can lead to foliage growth rather than fruit growth. Before planting your seeds or seedlings, you should check the potting soil and remove any chemical fertilizers or pesticides that may have been used on the plant and replace it with organic compost.
You can add bone meal, fish emulsion and seaweed extract to your soil to provide extra nutrients for your tomatoes. If you are growing your beefsteak tomatoes in an outdoor garden then it is best to spread a fertilizer such as 10-10-10 around the base of the plant.
When growing your plants indoors, you can add slow release pellets around the base of the plant or water the plants with seaweed solution every couple of weeks. Seaweed contains many nutrients that help promote big, healthy plants and fruits.
Watering your plants at the right time and enough is very important. Make sure that the growing media drains well otherwise fungi and other diseases may affect the plant.
You can do this by adding some perlite or vermiculite to the soil. This helps to keep the soil loose and heaving. Watering your plants at the right time and in the right amount prevents disease, pest infestations, and promote big, healthy plants.
If you are growing your plants outdoors, you need to make sure that the plants are protected from any hard frosts. You can either cover your plants with a frost blanket or move the plants under cover or indoors if there are any frost warnings going around.
Hard frosts will kill your plants so it’s best to take precautions beforehand if you live in an area that experiences freezing temperatures.
If you are growing your plants indoors, then they will need the brightest spot in the house that gets a lot of sun. If there isn’t a bright spot in your house, then you can always grow the plants under strong lights.
All plants need light in order to grow and produce fruit. During the winter months, indoor plants will need as much light as they can get especially if the days are short. Beefsteak varieties need an average amount of sunlight.
Prune the foliage back during the spring and summer months to promote bushy growth. Don’t prune the plant completely back because you want it to have enough foliage for it to produce fruit during the fall and winter months when there isn’t as much light.
If you are growing them indoors, make sure that the plants get at least 14 hours of light per day.
Beefsteak plants can be grown outdoors in the ground or you can grow them in a large container that has a drainage hole at the bottom. If you choose to grow them in a container, it is best that you add some perlite or pot shards to the soil so that it drains well.
Be sure to provide enough support for the plant as it grows. Container grown plants need to be watered and fed more frequently than those in the ground.
Harvesting Your Tomatoes:
Tomatoes should be picked when they are fully colored and firm but still give a little when you gently press on them. If the tomatoes crack when you are trying to pick them or they have many soft spots then they aren’t ripe yet.
Each variety of tomato ripens at a different time so follow the directions for each one since you don’t want to pick them too early or too late or the flavor won’t be up to par.
Tomato plants can grow to be very large and depending on the variety, they can produce up to several hundred tomatoes. It isn’t practical to try to can or ripen all of them so you will have to pick and choose which ones you want to keep and which ones you are going to throw away.
You also need to pick them before the first frost hits your area as the flavor isn’t as good after that and the skin tends to crack more when the temperatures get cooler.
You don’t need to be able to grow all of the plants from seed in order to have fresh tomatoes year around. You can buy starter plants that are already growing in a container at most garden centers and nurseries.
These ready to plant containers are great if you aren’t really sure if you are going to like growing tomatoes or you don’t have the patience to wait for the seeds to first start growing.
If you are growing the plants indoors, then you will need to transplant the plants outdoors when the weather is warm and settled. If the plants are in the ground, then you just need to be sure that you harden them off first by exposing them to the elements during the day and bringing them back inside at night for a week before finally leaving them out for good.
When it comes time to harvest your tomatoes, you can do so in several ways. The easiest way is to pick the entire tomato off it’s stem.
If you want to ripen them inside, then laying newspaper on the floor of a spare room is fine since you are just going to throw them out when they begin to turn color. You can also leave the tomatoes on the plant and just pick off the ones that are ready since birds will eat some of them if left on the plant anyway.
To ripen the tomatoes inside, you need to separate the ones that you want to ripen from the unripe ones and leave them on a newspaper lined cookie sheet in a single layer. Don’t put them all in one big pile or they will all end up ripe and rot before their time.
If the room is around 70 degrees, they will ripen in a few days. Turning them every day will help them to ripen evenly. If the room is warmer, then they will ripen faster so you will need to turn them more often. If they get moldy spots, just cut them off and the rest of the tomato is still good to eat.
The bottom of the cookie sheet can be used to measure how ripe the tomatoes are. If they hang over the edge, they are not quite ripe yet and still a little firm.
If they lay flat on the sheet, they are ripe and you need to eat or can them soon because ripe tomatoes begin to give off a gas that causes other unripe tomatoes around them to spoil quicker. If the cookie sheet is full of tomatoes that are ripe, then you need to be sure that they are in closed containers to keep the others from spoiling.
When the tomatoes have reached the desired ripeness, you can either begin to can them or just begin to eat them. If you aren’t going to can them, then you need to keep eating the ripe ones as fast as you pick them or they will begin to spoil those that are left on the plant.
If you decide to can them, you need to get out your pressure canner and follow the instructions that came with it for the quantities that you will be processing. If you need more information on canning in general, there are plenty of resources available as well.
Storing Your Tomatoes
If you have more tomatoes than you can eat right away, then you are going to need to know how to store them. They don’t store for long periods of time like a canned good would because they grow under the ground where the air doesn’t get to them and help to rot them.
Tomatoes that have sun-scald or are starting to rot will give off a gas that will make the other good tomatoes spoil faster.
The best way to store your tomatoes is to can or freeze them if you need them to last longer than just a few days. If you are going to be able to use them within a week or two, you can throw them in an air tight container and put them in the fridge.
The reason for putting them in an air tight container is because the fridge has moist air in it. If you just put the tomatoes in the fridge loose, they will take up that moisture and start getting soft and gooey.
If you have a lot of tomatoes to store, you can leave them in a single layer on cookie sheets and put them in the freezer. Once they are frozen (but not solid), you can put them in air tight containers or Ziploc bags to use when you need them.
Canning Your Tomatoes
If you have enough tomatoes, you can can them. It is very easy to can tomatoes, but you do need a pressure canner to do it safely.
You can not use a water bath canner because the acid levels in the tomatoes are not high enough for them to be heated up that way.
Quart jars are the most common size for home canned goods so that is what I will describe here. The process for pints is exactly the same except you only need half a pint of liquid in the bottom of the jar.
Get your pressure canner heating up on your stove while you are preparing everything else. Follow the directions that came with your canner for how much water to put in it and how hot to make it.
You need to have new lids for canning everytime because you are using the high heat to kill any bacteria and the lids are not reusable. To be extra safe though, you need to make sure the flat rubber part on the lids are perfectly smooth.
If there is even a small dent in it, do not use that lid. You would not be able to seal the jar properly and it could even burst while processing.
Get out your canning jars and wash them in hot soapy water. Rinse them well and then dry them off.
Now get your tomatoes prepared.
Sources & references used in this article:
Tomato plant culture: in the field, greenhouse, and home garden by JB Jones Jr – 2007 – books.google.com
Growing tomatoes in the home garden by CJ Male, K Whealy – 1999 – Workman Publishing
Growing tomatoes in the home garden by G Gao, B Bergefurd, B Precheur – Ohio State University Extension Bulletin, 2010 – Citeseer
Tomatoes by D Pittenger – 2005 – books.google.com
Growing tomatoes at home by D Relf, A McDaniel, R Morse – 2009 – vtechworks.lib.vt.edu