growing heirloom tomatoes

The week following Independence Day weekend was hot and sunny. The tomato plants are loving the weather. I can tell because they’re bigger, thicker, and lush. There are clusters of green tomatoes, which have replaced where yellow blossoms used to be. Although there was one evening where there was a brief moment of strong wind, which toppled a tomato plant and damaged some leaves. A branch on a tomato plant fell over but didn’t break off. It continued to grow. In fact, it was producing suckers, which I removed. I guess it was its way of surviving after it had fallen over. I did my best to fix it up. The fallen branch continued to grow in an upward direction. I placed it back upright, and it looked like it was growing in an odd direction.

I’ve been diligent about removing suckers from tomato plants this season and I think it has helped them to produce blossoms and tomatoes. I have read both sides of the argument regarding the removal of suckers. Some say it doesn’t matter. Personally, I think it makes a difference. Also, it’s a good way to keep the tomato plants tamed because if they were left alone, they’d grow wildly and I just don’t have the room on the balcony for these plants to branch out however they please. I’ve missed a couple of suckers but eventually spot them when they’re larger. If they have blossoms on the growing sucker, I’ll leave it alone. After all, I am interested in tomato production.

Besides removing suckers, I’ve trimmed off leaves at the base of the plant where they’re not getting much light down there and to make room for companion plants that I am growing like basil, marigolds, and pepper plants. Damaged leaves are removed and sometimes I’ll trim the ends back when they’re touching a wall, or get entangled with an adjacent tomato plant. I try to move them around when I can before I start clipping away like Edward Scissors hands. I’ve found that cutting back helps with the general air circulating in between and through the plants, which is something I want to encourage. Circulating air promotes good health and growth for all plants.

Calcium is an important mineral for tomato plants especially when there are tomatoes growing on the plant. Tomatoes can develop bottom rot if they are deficient in calcium. You won’t know that the plant is calcium deficient until you see it on a tomato, and it looks exactly as the name suggests. Not a pretty sight. I’ve added crushed eggshells to all tomato plants, and will start to add milk to my watering can. I recently read that tomato plants love milk from a favorite garden blogger and book author, You Grow Girl. Milk is a great source for calcium.

German red strawberry tomatoes

So far, I am able to identify one variety of tomatoes that we’re growing, the German Red Strawberry. I have a guess on another plant with developing tomatoes. Based on the descriptions I’ve read and images I’ve seen online, it might be the Pork Chop tomato, or the Spear’s Tennessee green tomato.

The Spear’s Tennessee green tomato is also a beefsteak type tomato. Supposedly, it has been growing since 1950 by the Spear family, whoever they are. There doesn’t seem to be any additional information about the Spear family as it relates to the tomato.

The Pork Chop tomato is a yellow beefsteak type of tomato. I have read that these tomatoes have a bit of green on their shoulders or stripes but eventually turn yellow, making the Pork Chop a two toned yellow tomato. Though I acquired these seeds from Baker Creek, these tomatoes were developed by Brad Gates at Wild Boar Farms.

I was only able to find another gardener and blogger growing the pork chop tomato who posted photos of it growing on the plant. That is what I have for a reference until it ripens and I know definitively.

The one mystery that bothers me is I can’t seem to figure out which plant is a Blue Beauty. I have read that the plant also has blue markings but I am uncertain about the blue I’ve noticed on the plant(s). The tomatoes aren’t helping either as they’re still green though I noticed that the shoulders seem darker and the lower part of the tomato is a lighter shade of green. Photos I’ve seen seem to support my description especially this description from You Grow Girl, “The blue/black side is the part that gets the most sun, while the reddish portion is the part that hangs down on the vine and is partially shaded by leaves.” . that particular plants are growing the blue tomatoes.

Growing tomatoes isn’t complete without a cherry tomato variety. And although I did acquire a packet of seeds for cherry types, I had a hard time starting them. I’m not sure if I succeeded, and I don’t see signs that I have any growing. I am disappointed but then again, I’ve got lots of plants and they’re all producing tomatoes.

Tomato blossoms


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