Heirloom Tomatoes Better Late than Early

May 27, 2010

A stretch of cloudy days and mild temperatures was just what I needed to finally get my heirloom tomatoes transplanted into the garden last weekend!

I know I’m later than usual, and some of you have had your tomatoes and peppers out for weeks already, but you also endured some stressful frost warnings, dealt with covering plants on chilly nights, and maybe replaced a tender seedling or two that was damaged by unexpected changes in the weather.

Better Safe than Sorry with Tender Tomato Seedlings

Okay, so I won’t be harvesting vine-ripened tomatoes before July, but that’s fine too; I’d rather play it safe and make sure my irreplaceable heirlooms are nice, comfy, and safe. I’d also wager that my tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants will catch up with and may ultimately outproduce plants that spent April and early June shivering and waiting for the garden’s soil to warm up to their liking!

The recent cloudy weather provided the perfect cover to set out lots of transplants. The patience paid off and allowed me to set out stocky tomato plants that were healthy and vigorous with no set backs from the day they germinated right through their first weeks in the garden.

Some of this Season’s Heirloom Tomato Varieties:

•    Amazon Chocolate
•    Yellow Brandywine
•    Paul Robeson
•    Golden Giant
•    Pineapple
•    Black Krim
•    Mortgage Lifter

In total, I transplanted 14 different tomato varieties into the garden and plan to add two more cherry tomatoes to an Earthbox for good measure. The tomato transplants were set deeply as usual and placed in a row down the center of a raised bed to make it easy to implement that new tomato trellising system again this season.

Finding New Homes for a Few Good Tomatoes

A dozen extra tomato plants traveled to the office with me this week where they were quickly snapped up by co-workers. All except for that Green Zebra plant that was shunned because the idea of a green ripening tomato just didn’t go over very well.

Guess they’ll learn the hard way when I bring some Green Zebra samples in later this summer… that’s when they will discover once again that odd and unusual is often very tasty when you’re talking about heirloom tomatoes!

Other Related Vegetable Gardening Posts:

  • I wanted to say thank you! Your blog has been very helpful as I am just planting my first garden. I do a blog called Fitness & The Foodie (fitnessandthefoodie.blogspot.com), and I know my readers will really enjoy your tips. I’ll be sure to mention your site in my post tomorrow.

  • Jeremiah

    I’m growing heirloom tomatoes for the first time this year, including the Green Zebra. I can’t wait to pick a few of them and try them for the first time. Also, planted late but they’re springing up quick.

  • Oregon has had an unseasonably wet early summer. As a result my heirlooms I planted in the ground are lagging (they were just plain sad until a couple weeks ago ;)). It might have been better if I had kept them in safe a few weeks longer as well. I was surprised by the tomatoes I tried in the topsy turveys this year. I was able to get some early girls and pear tomatoes to really take off in these.

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Ron, I would love to see some photos of your topsy turvy tomatoes. My tomatoes are growing very well now in spite of some pretty dry weather, I’ve been harvesting a decent amount of fruit for a couple of weeks now.

  • andy

    I have a question about my Super steak Beefsteak Tomato’s, the plant will flower nicely and then the flowers will dry up and fall off. we are ground watering along with the other tomato plants that are doing great. HELP Thank you, Andy

  • margaret mason

    my question is, I have tree tomatoes and two of them are doing good and making tomatoes and the other two bloom and then the blooms die and fall off.

  • Ok, I will send some photos in.

  • Peter Faden

    So, our last snow here in Salt Lake City was at the end of May, and i waited until June 3rd to sow my tomato seeds. It has actually only gotten over 80 degrees twice so far this month and was in the low 60’s yesterday. Anyway, planted the following variety: Black Truffle, Green Zebra, Aunt Ruby, Rainbow, Hybrid Cherry, and Purple Cherokee. They have sprouted nicely and are ready for transplant. I also have an OSU blue i’m trying out, and a Big Beefsteak, both purchased in pots. The Beefsteak especially is blowing up right now.
    Anyway, this is my first year growing, and was wondering what kind of timeline i could expect? From what i can tell, it looks like late August might be what i can expect for the majority of these to fruit, with the exception of the last two, which i am guessing will begin producing more quickly. The beefsteak already has close to twenty flowers on it.

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Peter, you may be surprised and see ripe fruits a lot sooner than you are anticipating, like during July.

  • Linda

    I am also having problems with my tomato plants. I planted heirlooms
    in the middle of March. We had some warm weather and the stores
    where selling veggie plants so figured it must be ok to plant that early.
    But I am having a hard time with them. They don’t seem to be growing.
    They have a little bite of yellow on some of the leaves but not all the plants.
    Help, anyone know what is wrong with them?

  • Linda,

    Did it freeze or get below 38 degrees after you planted them? is there any white powder on the plants?


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