by Lisa Washington
The beefsteak tomato is by far the most popular type of home garden tomato plant grown in North America. These delicious tomatoes grow fairly easily and quickly, and produce large fruit, up to 2 pounds!
They aren’t often available in the grocery store as they are not well-suited to mechanized growing on a large scale.
There are many varieties of these. From heirloom beefsteak to hybrids, from big beef tomatoes to Brandywine.
Learn how you can grow your very own beefsteak tomato plants in your vegetable garden and enjoy them at home.
What Kind of Tomato Is a Beefsteak?
The beefsteak tomato is one of the largest varieties of cultivated tomatoes.
Most hybrid and heirloom beefsteak tomatoes are red or pink in color. Although others can be yellow or even orange. Beefsteaks all contain many small seed locules dispersed all over the fruit.
Some popular varieties of beefsteak tomatoes include:
|Beefsteak Tomato Varieties|
|Big Beef||Globe-shaped Lacks deep-set stem and a large core of typical beefsteaks|
|Heirloom Beefsteak||Shorter shelf life and less disease-resistant than hybrids Rich in flavor|
|Beefmaster||Hybrid Disease resistance Meaty|
|Brandywine||Creamy flesh Rich fruit|
|Cherokee Purple||Exceptional flavor|
What Is the Best Way to Grow Beefsteak Tomatoes?
It takes one long season to grow the perfect beefsteak tomatoes. For the best results you should start growing them indoors for 6 weeks before planting them outside. You want to do so one week or two after spring’s final frost.
The Best Soil for Growing Beefsteak Tomatoes
For the best possible results, start by sowing beefsteak tomato seeds in a well-drained, soilless mix. Sow them ½″ deep in a mixture at room temperature.
When you transplant them to your garden, plant the seeds in warm soil. The ideal soil temperature for planting beefsteak tomatoes is between 60 and 90 degrees fahrenheit. Warm soil leads to germination at a faster rate.
Before germination, you should maintain the soil’s moisture, but ensure that it’s not soggy. Water it moderately once you notice that the seedlings have broken through the soil.
Beefsteaks, like other tomato varieties, like a well-drained, fertile soil rich in organic matter. Use fertile loams and clays as your soil for greater tomato yields. Although, if you’re looking to harvest faster, using lighter soils that heat up and drain quickly do trick.
Excellent soil is the most important element. Side-fertilizing with an even mix (10-10-10), as the first flowers form, is recommended. Compost or compost tea can also be used if growing organically. Proper support structures cannot be emphasized enough. Lots of water once tomatoes begin to form is vital.
Beefsteak tomatoes will thrive well in soil that’s mildly acidic. Just ensure that its pH level remains between 6.0 and 6.8.
While your crops are growing, it’s best to use organic fertilizer rich in:
- Moderate levels of Nitrogen
Most in-ground growers will turn their soil and include a mulch such as straw or winter cover crops. This keeps the soil loose and allows the tomato’s roots to breathe. Thus alleviating other problems common to Beefsteaks.
Proper soil should be loose, rich, and not have had tomatoes in it for at least three years.
How to Care for Beefsteak Tomatoes
Cold temperatures are bad for your transplants once you’ve moved them outside. They risk deforming in the wrong climate. This is called catfacing and it should be avoided by waiting for your soil to warm up and stabilize.
Your beefsteak tomato crop will grow better when planted deeper in your garden than you would in containers. When transplanting your crop, ensure that the soil almost reaches the lowest leaves.
Avoid growing your starts next to members of the Brassicaceae family:
- And others…
It’s important that you mulch your crop in order to maintain the soil’s moisture and take care of weeds. Use black plastic mulch to keep the soil warm or red plastic mulch to ensure tomatoes get enough light.
Ensure that your tomato beefsteak batch has a continuous supply of moisture for it to thrive. If the area you planted them in isn’t getting enough rain (< 1 inch a week) water them regularly.
A common mistake made by those new to Beefsteak tomatoes is to underestimate the size of beefsteak plants and the amount of space the plants require. They can grow as much as eight feet in height and spread two to three feet wide, so a minimum spacing of 36 inches is a must.
As with most tomatoes, pinching early shoots will encourage upward growth and production. They should be tied to a trellis or staked or you can use tomato cages. Beefsteaks often get end-rot and other problems when not held upright.
Watering correctly is vitally important to Beefsteak varieties. Watering on the ground or at the base of the plant and increasing frequency when tomatoes begin forming will discourage blossom end rot and larger fruits.
The best time to start harvesting your tomato plants is when they’ve ripened fully. That’s when they have the most flavor. You’ll know a tomato plant is ripe by observing the bottom end of the fruit.
Harvest when the tomatoes are at their peak color. This is usually at 65 to 90 days, depending on the climate and specific strain. Beefsteaks are a medium-red color when ripe and will be easily plucked from the vine.
When Dealing With Pests and Diseases
Crucial parts of growing your tomatoes include:
- Crop rotation of your tomato varieties
- Good air circulation
- Maintaining soil temperature
The primary dangers your beefsteak tomatoes face are common tomato diseases if they’re not rotated.
Some of these disease problems include:
As for pests, some of the more common ones include:
|Common Tomato Pests|
You can deal with these pests in different ways, such as:
- Pouring a strong water stream on your plants to remove aphids.
- Handpicking beetles, larvae, and eggs.
- Using row covers to get rid of flea beetles.
What Are Beefsteak Tomatoes Used For?
Hybrid and heirloom beefsteak tomatoes are used in a variety of dishes to add flavor to your meals. You can use your very own crop when:
- Slicing tomatoes and adding them to your sandwiches and burgers.
- Stacking them with other vegetables and olive oil in homemade salads.
- Roasting a beefsteak tomato to enhance its captivating flavor.
- Making soups, sauces, stews, chilis, and pasta dishes with their meaty texture.
- Dicing tomatoes and adding them to salsa.
- Deep-frying big beef ones and making delicious stuffed tomato recipes.
It’s best to store your beefsteak tomato batch at room temperature in your kitchen. You can also keep any ripe tomato in your fridge to slow decay, although this may dampen its flavor.
If you have lots of them and want to conserve them for longer, you can dry or can them. This is a great way of enjoying the fruits of your labor over a long period like cold winter months.
Want to Learn More About Gardening?
Once you grow your own beefsteak tomatoes, you’ll ask yourself, “Why stop there?” You’ll realize that there’s a lot more you can do with your garden. You’ll want to try your hand at growing a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.
That’s where the Gardening Channel comes in. This is your one-stop site for all of your gardening needs. Learn how to plant, grow, harvest, protect, and use all kinds of plants.
If it grows in the earth, you’ll find it on the Gardening Channel.