Why Grow Heirloom Tomatoes?
Growing Tomatoes in Pots
The most appealing feature of heirloom tomatoes is their complex flavor, which hybrid varieties tend to lack. Because the point of growing tomatoes is to eat them in the end, many gardeners value the highly prized taste of heirlooms over their shortcomings .
Starting Heirloom Tomato Seeds
You will most likely be starting heirloom tomato plants from seeds, because few stores carry heirloom plants for sale. Hybrids on the other hand, are overwhelmingly popular because of their reliability and productivity. You might find some heirloom varieties in your local nursery, but chances are that they do not carry the specific varieties you would like.
Because heirloom tomato varieties are not as disease resistant as modern hybrid varieties, care should be taken to minimize the exposure to diseases and harm in all steps of the growing process.
Heirloom tomato seeds should be sown in a soiless growing medium to minimize the risk of bacteria. After they are at least 6 inches tall, heirloom tomato plants must be hardened off before transplanting outside. The process of hardening involves a gradual, increased exposure of the plants to the outdoors. Hardening is needed because the plants are reared indoors and they are not used to the harsher conditions outside. Plants that are transplanted into the garden too quickly risk getting sunburns and windburns.
To start the hardening process, choose a nice, calm day and leave the plants outside for two hours before bringing them in. After doing this for a few days, gradually increase the hours of exposure outside until the plants look ready. If done correctly, the plants should have grown a little bigger after this process. If at any time the plants receive burns (whitish marks on the leaves), bring them in for a few days before starting the process over again.
Transplanting into the Garden
Before transplanting heirloom tomato plants into the garden, remove all but the top two sets of leaves. Dig a deep hole for the plant and pad the interior with compost and if you want, add a few tablespoons of slow-release fertilizer. Set the plant in and bury the stem all the way up to the top two sets of leaves. This practice encourages root formation from the stem, resulting in a better root system that can take in additional nutrients.
Fertilize regularly (every 2-3 weeks), but do not overdo it. Organic fertilizers are preferred because they tend to bring out the best of heirloom tomatoes’ rich flavors. Most growers agree that the natural ingredients in organic fertilizers improve flavor more than chemical fertilizers, and flavor is what we’re looking for when growing heirlooms.
Watering plants should be best done in the morning when it’s cool. Hold the hose low and water the ground so as not to splash mud on leaves. An automated drip irrigator is a terrific watering system.
Pruning the plants maybe something you should consider when growing heirloom tomatoes. Pruning off suckers is a tradeoff between decreased overall fruit production and increased fruit size and quality. Because flavor is such an important part of heirlooms, pruning might be worth it, especially for big-sized tomatoes. If you’re not satisfied with the fruit size or want to hasten fruit formation, then you should prune.
Saving Heirloom Tomato Seeds
If you want to save heirloom tomato seeds for next year from this year’s fruits, then different tomato varieties should be separated as far as possible to minimize cross-breeding, which can produce unexpected results.
Growing Tomatoes in Pots :how-to-grow-tomatoes