heirloom tomatoes question

natalija_gardenerSeptember 9, 2009


I have heirloom tomatoes. They grew pretty big, but they are still not ripe. And another thing - their skin split. One of them become yellow color, so I harvested it but it has strange "mushy" structure and is not so sweet.

Should I just take the closest to ripeness off and put them to ripen in the kitchen? Or it is better to leave them alone and wait until they are orange as in the picture?

these splits seem to be bigger when the colour turnes close to red.

Any advice?

Thanks for your time.

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One of the downsides of the "heirlooms" is that many have poor resistance to fungus diseases and blight. I would suggest giving Legend a try---- an OSU introduction. Also, the older variety 'Cascade' is a decent all purpose tomato for the PNW, and has been around long enough to be called a sort of heirloom.
I prefer the black russian types, but they often crack.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2009 at 1:56PM
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thanks for advise, I will probably try these kinds next time.
actually yesterday i found out that they are not supposed to turn red but orange is their colour. so actually some of them already over-ripened. The name of the is "Striped German"

    Bookmark   September 10, 2009 at 5:24PM
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hemnancy(z8 PNW)

You might want to check Days to Maturity on the tomatoes you grow, and try to stay in the 60's or early 70's. I hate cracking and grow heirlooms or OP tomatoes that have thick skins and don't crack. I also have been growing Juliet from seed every year to stabilize it as it never cracks and is my most vigorous seedling, and earliest tomato to ripen. Some of my earliest non-cracking this year-

Principe Borghese
Siberian Pink
Large PL Heart (lost name)
Large Italian Plum Pink
Italian Light Globe
Bloody Butcher
Legend is later than above
Gogosha- some circular rings at the top, great production
Verna's Orange Oxheart very early, wonderful taste and texture, slight blemishes around stem

Some I've grown previously-
Oregon Cascade
Immune Prior Beta (IPB)

I start tomatoes under lights around Jan. 20 and start planting them out under tunnel covers April 1-7, so I get an early start and start getting ripe tomatoes around the end of July.

It's also possible to grow small varieties in pots, like Totem and Sophies Choice.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2009 at 7:44PM
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We attach plastic over our tomato plants during late-summer rainy spells to reduce cracking.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2009 at 11:35PM
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The Princepe Borgese is a very good sauce tomato as well.
It resists blossom end rot and cracking too.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2009 at 10:32AM
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Hi Natalija, I grow about 26 different kinds of heirloom tomatoes. With the whites, yellows and oranges, I start taste-testing as soon as I see the green nearly gone. Many of them simply taste better before they attain full ripeness, but since it's a matter of preference, try them at several stages. The first year with a new tomato is a real experiment but it will help you to decide if you want to use that tom again next year. My steady choices are Brandywine Sudduth, Sungold, Azoychka, Jaune Flamme, Marianna's Peace, Clint Eastwood's Rowdy Red, Earl's Faux (best ever!), Purple Haze, Jersey Devil, San Marzano, Costoluto Genovese, and Brandywine OTV. To me,tomatoes bred for the PNW like Legend and Oregon Spring are lacking in flavor and texture in comparison to those I mentioned. As for cracking, there's no harm to the tomatoes or flavors. I do try to harvest nearly ripe toms if I know there's a rainstorm (not light showers) coming because that's what really causes the big cracks.

Hope this helps. We're loving our heirlooms this year including Striped German, but the extremely hot sun burnt a few tomatoes (tossed them in the compost), and then the rain cracked a few. Those made delicious salads and tomato sauces.


    Bookmark   September 12, 2009 at 9:53PM
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For patio containers, I really like the Heartland, a small determinate vine and decent fruit. Manageable plant. Some of the Heirlooms "most in fact", are inteterminate, and tend to make a mass of foliage late season, while the determinates tend to set a lot of fruit late summer.

The popular type Sungold, can actually become a sort of weed, since it reseeds readily and you end up with a lot more of them than you would want. They tend to crack too.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2009 at 5:20PM
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thank you all for the wealth of info you have provided!!!
I really appreciate your responses.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2009 at 6:11PM
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Like other people said above, growing them early under tunnels works great. I did that this year, and had ripe tomatoes (not very many, though) in early-mid July. The tunnel is easy to build too- you can either buy Tun-l covers, or you can simply make a tunnel by building a frame of PVC pipes covered in plastic. In my tunnel, the PVC pipe ends slip on top of 2ft metal rebar which is hammered into the soil, but some people just push the PVC into the soil until it is secure.

As for your fruits being mushy and cracking, it's probably either due to over watering/too much rain and/or temperature fluctuations. This is what happens to a lot of varieties in late summer, sadly.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2009 at 3:17PM
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