Oxheart Tomatoes

sheila65(z9 Sacramento, CA)January 28, 2013

Has anyone had success growing oxheart tomatoes in the Sacramento Valley? I found a variety I want to try (Orange Strawberry Oxheart) but if these varieties don't do well in our hot, dry summers I don't want to waste my limited garden space on planting it! Thanks -

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Don't know of any reason why they wouldn't do just as well as any other type/variety in your location. The plant needs are the same regardless of the fruit shape.


    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 10:34AM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

I'm just adding some information about Orange Strawberry and Oxheart is not part of the name.

As you can see from the link below it's not an heirloom and resulted from a stray seed.

I'm the Carolyn in that link who was sent the seeds as described in the link. Majorie had also sent me the seeds for German Red Strawberry as well, which many folks know of.

I have several friends in the Sacromento river valley who can easily grow ANY variety they want to depending on how they grow their tomatoes.

So go for it, heart varieties are some of my most favorite varieties and I know several folks in CA who feel the same way.

Nothing special at all when talking about heart varieties, from many other tomato shapes, as far as how one grows tomatoes and what they need.


Here is a link that might be useful: Orange trawberry

    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 1:41PM
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sheila65(z9 Sacramento, CA)

You would think that I could grow any kind of tomato I wanted where I live, but I have had a few bombs - no luck with brandywine or amish paste, for example. Both of these varieties had lots of blossoms, then it got too hot for them and the blossoms all fell off. Beautiful full tomato plants with no tomatoes....

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 2:30AM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

Sheila, every one has bombs, really, and for different reasons. This past season I only was able to get fruit off of three different red cherries. LOL And that b'c the weather was horrendous.

Where you live seeds should be sowed between about Xmas and early january and set out by mid February or so, so that fruit set can occur and fruits ripen before the high heat sets in.

I don't know where you live in S Cal, zone 9b but a few years back I was invited to give a dog and pony show at a now shut upscale nursery in LA, maybe it was Hortus, and they had a branch in Orange County as well, so I learned a lot about CA growing up close and personal.

I also still have many tomato friends in CA, some have seed sites, some sell plants, some just grow for their own personal enjoyment.

So I think it's the timing of seed sowing that's most important for you.


    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 8:53AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Agree with Carolyn. When "bombs" such as you describe happen then the problem isn't the variety. It is problems with planting time used and growing conditions provided.

More details would help but from your info so far it sure sounds like you need to be planting earlier for one thing.


    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 10:10AM
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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)

I live south of the Sacramento Valley, but conditions are not all that different. I have not had very good yields with the oxhearts I have tried, and have been disappointed with the flavor of some of the big ones. My favorite has been Grightmire's Pride, which is not as big as some oxhearts.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 9:30PM
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As I wrote in the California forum, I have tried over 100 types of tomatoes, and I think Orange Strawberry is DELICIOUS, but it does not set a huge crop, at least in Sacramento, very few yellow/orange tomatoes do (except for Yellow Pear but BLECH) If you want a lot of tomatoes, I would suggest New Zealand Pear, which is sort of a large Oxheart-paste type, it pumps out the tomatoes and is quite tasty. I think you should plant them both!

Carla in Sac

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 1:41PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

sautesmom - just out of curiosity what is it about the Sacramento Valley that apparently makes it so difficult to grow tomatoes there? Heat? Many parts of the country routinely deal with worse heat. Same goes for humidity. Lack of rainfall? Soil consistency? Nutrient levels?

I mean it is one of the biggest AG producing sections of the country so it would seem that home gardeners there should be able to easily grow anything they wished, even tomatoes, far easier than in many other parts of the country.

I know you have posted about the problems there before but honestly, everything one reads about the agriculture studies from UC Davis about growing in the valley, both north and south, talks about how the primary issue is improper planting times used. Is that accurate info or not?

Thanks for any insight you can provide as this is a frequently discussed question.


    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 2:34PM
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I don't think it is difficult to grow tomatoes here at all, although I will say I have never succeeded in growing any of the Whites, and many Yellow/Oranges are not very happy either, I assume because of the summer extremes.

Every climate/place has issues, and ours are blazing summer heat spells in July, August and September, plus most of the soil I have seen has nematodes, a big problem. Plus a lot of new development in this State, where new homeowners aren't aware all their topsoil has been stripped away.

For me the summer heat does not do what everyone says (make pollinization difficult or impossible)--maybe that is more often the case with heat AND humidity. But I have personally seen that keeping roots cool in high heat, with 6 inches of mulch (newspaper with straw or grass clippings) results in DOUBLE my plant size for all summer crops including tomatoes. So people who leave the plants baking in bad soil when it is 103 degrees out see their plants croak or not produce tomatoes, no matter how much water you give them. It was just the opposite when I lived in Seattle--I was always trying to warm the soil up. So you have to adjust your growing to your challenges where you live.

Anyway, that's my take after living here in Sacramento for 14 years (yikes! has it been that long??)

Carla in Sac

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 7:42PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

That's good info. Especially about the mulching as I think many fail to take into consideration all the benefits a thick layer of mulch can provide. Not only keeping the roots cool but improving the soil at the same time.

Do you know if many make the effort to work on their nematode problems or are they just accepted?

Personally I have never tried any of the whites but the colored varieties do just as well for me as the standard reds do. But in addition to the mulching I do provide some mid-afternoon shade as our temps during July and August give us long runs of 100+ degree days.

So you have to adjust your growing to your challenges where you live.

And that is crucial. I envy you all being able to plant so early in the year but unfortunately I keep reading about growers and local guides there who still insist on planting in April and May. Even here April is often too late and May is definitely too late so we have to push the envelope and use some sort of early cover now and then to beat the heat.


    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 8:39PM
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sheila65(z9 Sacramento, CA)

I have always planted my seeds in late January/early February so next year I'll try earlier! I've been able to set my plants out in late March/early April and over the years generally have had good luck with most of the varieties I have tried. (i.e. Speckled Roma seems to loooove me!;D) But generally with the larger varieties I haven't succeeded. So planting those seeds earlier must be the trick! Thanks for all the advice.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 5:56PM
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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)

Like Carla, I haven't had good yields with some yellow or orange types in our slightly hotter climate to her South. I haven't tried Orange Strawberry but grew Orange Russian 117 one year. Got a few big, very beautiful fruits but was not impressed with the flavor.

My favorite orange or yellow variety so far has been the small, firm, sweet AAA Sweet Solano. It has sort of a translucent look with faint stripes when fully ripe and is a little different from most tomatoes in its texture. Not a workhorse tomato but a great garden snack. This year I'm comparing it to Little Lucky. I don't expect them to be particularly similar to each other. Someday, I'll try Carla's big winner - Jumbo Jim Orange. Seed is not real easy to find.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 1:32AM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

The link I gave below is to Tania's wonderful tomato database. When at the main info page for this variety click on Seed Availablity and you'll see that there are three places seling seed for it for 2013.

Heritage Harvest is in Canada, and for some reason it's said they don't send to the US. Jeff Casey's Heirlooms of Airdrie, not on the list, is also in Canada and he sends to the US with no problems at all and a great seed source as well.

You'll also see that Tania herself sells seeds for it and she sends everywhere. And Skyfire Seeds is in the US as well.

Hope that helps in terms of finding seed sources for Jumbo Jim Orange since you said it wasn't easy to find, and Tania also lists a Jumbo Jim Cherry.

When at the info page where the link takes you, if you want to know more about her site just go to the upper left and Click on MAIN. And when there see the shortcut tab at the top, click on that and you'll see all the ways you can find tomato varieties. When I know the name of a variety I use the alphabetical method. She has pages for over 4,000 varieties and going up almsot every day.

Hope that helps.

Carolyn, who would also like to ask Carla if she remembers the man from her area who grass mulched almost everything including I think himself. LOL I was just thinking about him when I read Carla's post above.

Here is a link that might be useful: Jumbo Jim Orange

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 1:21PM
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I bought my orginal Jumbo Jim Orange from mariseeds and they still sell it, see below (sorry to hijack this thread--it is not an Oxheart, but it IS extremely sweet and my favorite yellow!)
And yes, Carolyn, I do remember Mr. Mulch, he was the one started me mulching, although I am not quite as fervent about it as he was!

Carla in Sac

Here is a link that might be useful: https://www.mariannasheirloomseeds.com/heirloom-seeds-catalog/mariseeds-heirloom-tomato-seeds/yellow-orange-tomatoes/569/jumbo-jim-orange-detail.html

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 4:11PM
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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)

Thanks for the links. I had a hard time deciding which cultivars to plant this year. I guess next year will be the same story. But Jumbo Jim Orange will probably make my list next year. Maybe I'll find another moderately-sized oxheart type to try, too.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 6:25AM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

Carolyn, what color heart varieties are you looking for? I'm a long time heart lover and would be glad to make some suggestions.

Although if you do a search here at GW I know you'll find many threads about them and suggestions, but I don't file threads from here so you can do the search yourself, at the bottom of this first page or maybe Dave has a few on file.

In any case I'd be glad to list some of my faves if you tell me what you're looking for in a heart, and yes, there are some that are more pointed than others, which makes no difference, and there are some that are larger than others as well.

Carolyn, the one in NYS

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 6:39AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Search here using 'favorite heart' pulls up several good discussions including Best black, beefsteak, and heart tomatoes which includes Carolyn's list of best hearts.


    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 10:46AM
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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)

I love Carolyn137's list from that thread, Dave. I would like to try a good smaller pink or red heart, or maybe one with some purplish tones. I think that the smaller ones might be better adapted where I am.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 12:17PM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

Below is a snippet from the link Dave provided above, and below this cut and paste I'd like to add more heart varieties that I think very highly of.

(I'm a heart lover and I just want to note that what Tomatofest is selling as Rostova, and TGS sells the same, should NOT be heart shaped. The original was a red beefsteak and it kinda morphed into a heart. I sent the last of my true Rostova seeds to Linda at TGS, so fingers crossed.

Anna Russian is fine, quite early for a heart and Kosovo seems to do well for everyone. But you've got all pink hearts there, discounting the wrong Rostova, which should be a red beefsteak, so let me suggest what I think are some great tasting and performing red heart varieties.

Linnie's Oxheart
Indiana Red
German Red Strawberry

...and some great ones to look for in the future since I don't think that any seed sites are yet offering them, but I didn't check:

Fish Lake Oxheart
Granny's Heart
Kukla's Portuguese Heart

Added the following note:
You can update seed availablility for the above 3 at Tania's wonderful website. I know Fishlake is out there but not sure about the other two yet since so new.

I send seeds for new varieties to several seed sites where I know the owners well and have for a long time, for trial. Some can offer them if they like them, for the next year. Others need to subcontract out so it normally takes two years. )


Ones I'd like to add now:

Kosovo I already mentioned in the above snippet
Danko, a great med red
Tsar of Bells ( Tsar Kolokol), pink
Dragoevo, red, new
Anna Maria's Heart, pink
Ludmilla's Pink Heart
Bobbie, red
Orange Minsk Heart, new
Cherokee Purple Heart, new
Serdtse Buivola, ( heart of the buffalo), pink
Cuore Bui, red
Anna Russian, pink

...... enough for now.(smile)


    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 2:13PM
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Glad to see your recommendations Carolyn, especially in light of a post I just made regarding wispy leaved foliage on most hearts. I was so tempted to try Danko (from Gleckler seedmen, among others I'm sure), but for the reasons I mentioned in that post, am extremely reluctant to do so. Hearts, I am told by my other Oklahoma friends and expert tomato growers, do not generally perform well here, and I'll leave it at that since I posted this question as a separate post. But, apparently, another issue is that we are anticipating another extreme heat, continued drought summer here. It is not exactly the appropriate time to test a heart.


    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 2:29PM
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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)

So Danko is a determinate, fairly early red heart. That's a little different. Cherokee Purple Heart also looks great. Thanks for the recommendations.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 5:41AM
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