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An heirloom tomato is generally regarded as a variety that has been passed down due to its valued characteristics through several generations of a family. An heirloom tomato is a tomato cultivar that is open-pollinated and non-hybrid. They are grown for a variety of reasons but maybe the most important one is that people want to preserve their genuine wild seeds and their true rich taste. Because what makes an heirloom tomato an heirloom tomato is the seeds. These are passed down from season to season, taken from the tomato plants that produced the best fruit by the farmers. This method allows farmers to choose other desirable characteristics such as juiciness, size, form, or color.
Our organic heirloom tomato seeds are special variety called Black Krim that originates from the Isle of Krim, which is near the Black Sea. They have the distinct dark reddish-purple to black skin with green or brown strains. This special heirloom tomato, a favorite of gourmet chefs, is consistently winning the top spot and earning rave reviews at taste trials. The fruits are extremely juicy and the flavor is strong, with a sweetness balanced by acidity notes, resulting in a distinct, slightly salty taste. They look and taste amazing added in your favorite salad or just sprinkled with olive oil and sea slot. You can also add some fresh mozzarella, pesto, and balsamic vinegar and you will have an amazing salad to impress.
Black Krim tomato seeds mature late, but they produce a lot of fruits that weigh an average of 226 g to 340 g (8 oz to 12 oz). You can easily sow some in your backyard garden or urban farm, directly or in a container, just make sure to have a deep container and strong stakes for support. Depending on the season length and the sun one container with two roots can produce from 4 kg to 8 kg (9 lbs to 18 lbs). In preferable conditions, one plant can produce more than 5 kg (11 lbs).
Preparation for planting heirloom tomato seeds
Our heirloom tomato plant is very easy to grow and care for. That is why people who start growing their own vegetables and fruits (yes, tomato is a fruit) pick tomatoes as one of their first plants.
Tomatoes in general love sunny areas so choose a spot in your garden where your plant can enjoy at least 8 hours of sun per day. It will tolerate shadier areas too but will grow much slower and will not be that productive.
Growing our organic Black Krim from seeds is obviously different than buying seedlings from your local nursery. In both cases, you will need a tomato cage or wooden sticks that will support the vines. They should be big enough to support the plants as they will grow big. You can buy ones from your local nursery or online as well as make your own. Make sure they are not plastic as they are toxic to the plants. We use wooden stakes but you can try metal stakes instead.
The idea behind the cages or wooden stakes is to have the vines off the ground. It will improve air circulation and keep vines supported throughout their growth. Healthy, attractive vines exceed 1.8 m (6 ft) or more and require heavy staking or caging to sustain good, high fruit yields. Tomatoes, in general, grow fast so you need to make sure you get large enough structures where the plants will not outgrow them. You will keep adjusting the cage and loosely tie some of the vines for better support.
How to plant heirloom tomatoes
Start with low heat indoors from mid-March to early April. Then grow seedlings at around 10 °C (50 °F) for 6 to 8 weeks. You can plant tomatoes in the early season when the temperatures at night are consistently above 7 °C (45 °F). Aim for optimum germination soil temperature of 25°C to 35 °C (68-95 °F) and seeds will germinate in 7-14 days.
Growing heirloom tomatoes from seedlings
The best way of growing your Black Krim tomatoes is to start them in small pots and later transfer them in larger ones or directly in your backyard. This way you give them a chance to grow in the spring, while the outside temperature is still low. Two months before the last frost will give them enough to become strong seedlings. Of course, this will still depend on the sunlight and temperature they are exposed to.
You will find different people telling you different stories. For many years we always do the same and it works for us. In our Canadian climate, we experimented and we found what works best here.
- Pick a small pot 0.5-1.0 L (30-60 oz) add holes to the bottom if there are none so the soil is well-drained. Keep a saucer underneath to gather the excessive water. We usually use white plastic containers from yogurt. They keep the soil moist for longer and have enough space for the roots to grow.
- Fill the pot with a good organic mix. Do not compact it. Just shake it a few times to remove any large air pockets.
- Dig a small hole - 2-3 cm (1 inch) deep in the soil and add one seed in it. Cover the hole with soil. You can add 1-2 more holes with seeds in one pot but later it will be tricky to separate the roots. We add 3 seeds per container.
- Keep the pots in a warm, sunny place and make sure the soil is always moist to touch.
In a few weeks, you will see seedlings coming out. They are fragile so avoid touching them.
Planting heirloom tomato seedlings
Once you have a stable temperature, well-above freezing, and your seedlings are at least 20 cm (8 inch) long, you can plant the seedlings outside or in a larger pot.
Tomatoes require a lot of sun. Pick a place that will provide at least 8 hours of direct sunlight every day. If you are planning to have the tomatoes in your back yard, dig holes that are 20-30 cm (8-12 inch) deep. Make them at least 50 cm (20 inch) apart. If you use pots, pick at least 3-6 L (12-18 gal) containers. A container 30 cm to 45 cm (12-18 inch) deep for all tomatoes is generally a good rule of thumb.
- Take a pot with one of your seedlings and try to remove the whole plant with the soil first. You can loosen the soil by gently shaking and knocking the pot.
- Once you have the soil outside the pot, separate seedlings if you planted more than one. The goal is to remove the soil and see the roots without breaking any of them. They are very fragile so be extra careful.
- Put the roots inside the hole in the ground at a dept that will cover the roots and the first 5 cm (2 inch) of the green stem with soil. Doing that will let the plant grow more roots and feed its fruits better.
- Compact the soil so there are no air pockets. You can water the area so it moves the soil in all crevices.
- Put the cage around the plant so it is ready for it to grow inside it.
Plants can be buried up to their first pair of true leaves at the time of final transplantation. This will encourage greater root growth, helping with both the absorption of nutrients and the ability of the plants to stand up to dry conditions.
Caring for heirloom tomatoes
Heirloom tomatoes like every tomato love water. You should water the plant every 2 days if it does not rain. Too much water will make the fruits crack so be careful. You can fertilize the plant every two weeks, using organic compost. Make sure it does not touch the plant as it may burn it. Adding glacial rock dust will supply all the calcium they will need.
Prune the dry leaves regularly. Push the branches that stick out of the cage back in it so they do not grow too far away. Heavy fruits will break them.
Stop watering to allow the fruit to mature around the end of July. Through tapping the stem from time to time, you can promote pollination and fruit setting if your plants are grown undercover. Tomatoes for pollination do not rely on insects. Vibrating the plant shakes pollen loose within the flowers, which then self-pollinate. We also rub the stamen with a Q-tip and make sure that the pollen is distributed around all flowers.
Diseases in heirloom tomatoes
Sometimes tomatoes get diseases. Fungus is the most common one so if you notice too many yellow leaves, dark spots, and blotches, you need to remove them immediately. You can also spray them with an organic fungicide. Late Blight is the cause of airborne fungal disease. Until spreading to stems and fruits, it starts as leaves. Prevention is essential because the infection cannot be treated. We advise you to keep the moisture off the plants. Use drip tape for watering and avoid splashing the leaves.
Blossom End Rot is a calcium deficiency environmental disease. As the condition name indicates, it happens at the blossom end of the fruit. It looks like a dry brownish, deeply sunken area. In the damaged area, a secondary infection can sometimes occur, making it mushy and muddy. Without the characteristic end rot, internal blacking can occur. Calcium deficiency can occur when excessive and uneven watering takes place. It promotes rapid growth when the plants are too dry for a period followed by overwatering. The tomato plant is unable to take up sufficient calcium, resulting in an unbalanced ratio of potassium-to-calcium. Digging into bonemeal, dolomite lime, and a good organic fertilizer will help prevent this disease as will a daily and even watering schedule.
You may also see potato beetles and stink bugs. Pick them by hand and spray with a natural insecticide to repel them or use soup water.
You can expect to harvest about 6 to 8 weeks. Harvest when the fruit is the desired color by picking the ripe fruit. They are ready to eat immediately. Check the plant every day as it will produce ripe tomatoes very often, especially if it is planted in a sunny place. Keep the freshly picked tomatoes at room temperature and never in the fridge.
The plant will produce until the first frost. If you have green tomatoes then, cut the whole branches and put them inside your house in a sunny place. They will take a few days and ripen as well.
Heirloom tomatoes companion plants
Organic heirloom tomatoes are sensitive plants when it comes to companions. This plant benefits from asparagus, basil, beans, borage, carrots, celery, chives, collards, cucumber, garlic, lettuce, marigold, mint, nasturtium, onion, parsley, and peppers.
Avoid planting alongside Brassicas and dill. Corn will attract tomato pests, and kohlrabi will stunt tomatoes’ growth. Potatoes may spread blight to tomatoes, so keep them apart. Do no plant tomatoes near walnut trees.
- Planting seasonmid-March to early April (indoors)
- Number of seeds1 seed per pot and 3 seeds per container
- Depth2-3 cm (1 inch) deep
- Days to maturity20-30 days
- Row spacing1 m (3 feet) apart
- In-row spacing50-75 cm (20-30 inch) apart
- Sunlight8-12 hours of sun per day
- Wateringonce every 2 days
- Harvesting40-60 days after planting seedlings
- PlantOrganic Heirloom Tomato
- Planted on
- First seedlings date
- First harvest date