OX Hearts

kjameswvAugust 9, 2014

Does anyone have much success growing ox heart tomatos? All of my plants leaves start turning brown early (deconil doesn't help much) & all of the tomatos have some type of problem, this pic being the most common... Thanks for any help/advice

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It looks as if you've had a lot of rain and they have split (as well as the leaves turning brown). If rain is in the forecast, you can pick any tomatoes that are blushing, and put them on the countertop inside to finish ripening. That should avoid the splitting.


    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 8:05AM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

I've had huge successes with almost any heart shaped varieties I've grown and I'm a dedicated heart loverl LOL

Yes, the splitting is due to too much rain as Linda said.

But you said all of the fruits, and I don't know if you are referring to this plant or others, have other problems, so if you could show us some of those other problems that would help.

Daconil is a great anti-fungal and can and does lessen the chances of the foliage getting the two common fungal foliage diseases of Early Blight and Septoria Leaf Spot.

But if there are those infections one gets specific spots on the foliage first and the leaves don't turn all brown.

it would help if you could tellus where, in a geographic sense, you grow your tomatoes, what gardening zone and what the weather has been like lately.


    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 10:38AM
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Thanks ladies, I'm in western Pennsylvania, we have had a lot of rain lately but the plants (ox hearts only) look more or less dead! I will send some pics when I get home.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 11:10AM
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I am a big heart lover as well and about half of my varieties this year are hearts. I find them less than other varieties prone to splitting like you show. Beefs are more likely to show concentric splitting first.
I generally stop watering my tomatoes starting August unless it is really really bad heat and no rain.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 12:59PM
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I am in the Pittsburgh, PA area and Wes has been on my must grow for years now. It is very early for a large tomato and the flavor and texture is among my favorites. Mine are doing great this year with no splitting, etc. Maybe you are watering too much and/or picking too late. We have had a lot of rain, in fact I have not watered yet this year. Try Wes it is really good and easy to grow IMO.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 2:16PM
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This is embarrassing to even post... I'm going to yank them soon.... Thoughts? It happens to my oxhearts every year...

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 7:35AM
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I wonder how much clay do you have in your soil

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 9:26AM
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I have raised beds, I brought all the soil in myself, topsoil and mushroom manure mostly... The bed are built up on mostly clay and rock...

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 9:34AM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

kj, I can't see the foliage well enough to see if there is any disease, but what I do see is the wispy, spare foliage that most heart varieties do have and is normal.

If I'm missing something in your picture, please let me know.

BTW, which variety (ies) are shown in your picture?



    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 9:58AM
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I'm growing hearts as well and although they manage to look like they are half dead, they still pump out tomatoes. This year my Anna Russian seems to have septoria or some other foliage disease that has affected several of my tomato plants. But it's still producing and I have yet to have a heart split. They are usually very meaty solid tomatoes from my experience, at least the ones I have grown. So, maybe you are overwatering or the drainage in your bed is poor.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 12:42PM
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I'm in Pittsburgh (Penn Hills area) and I'm growing several hearts this year:

Orange Russian
Bull's Heart
Anna Russian
Pink Oxheart
Rose de l'Omio

I got seeds from Trudi at wintersown.org for a small donation, and because I'd never grown many hearts before, I selected a bunch of heart varieties. Altogether I'm growing 32 different kinds of tomatoes. I've been harvesting by the boxful for the last few weeks, although now late blight is looming in our region-- so we'll see how long that lasts.

I did have quite a bit of yellowing on wispy leaved varieties, in comparison to much less on plants with sturdier leaves. I associate it with the tremendous amount of rain we've had. I am an organic gardener, so I used Serenade a few times and then tried Actinovate. Both contain proprietary strains of bacteria that occur naturally in the soil; the idea is to protect the leaf of the plant with this beneficial bacteria, so that the leaf is less susceptible to wind-and-water-borne diseases. I noticed a significant difference in yellowing after the use of Actinovate, although it also stopped raining as much in our area at the same time, so my use of Actinovate could have been coincidental. I have been removing the yellow leaves as long as I will not completely defoliate a plant, fearing disease, and many plants have had some yellowing with browning at the edges on the bottom leaves, but it has not seemed to effect production much and they have been going strong for nearly a month since I first noticed it.

I am also growing Speckled Roman and Blush, which have wispy foliage. Both had significant yellowing at the bottom branches but seem to have recovered. Coyote seemed to display more than other varieties as well (Coyote is a different species of tomato I believe, and it is also incredibly delicious).

Many of my hearts have split just like the ones you show in your photos. You can see one has split in the picture of my tomatoes below. It is due to all of the rain we've been getting. Here are some photos of my tomatoes (most of my hearts are planted in the last row):

It seems like many have stopped growing very much because of the weird, cool, and rainy weather. They are pumping out the tomatoes, though!

I really love Orange Russian (pictured in my hand above), because of its incredible shape and color. Kosovo has been another standout for me. Bull's Heart was among the first few tomatoes to ripen, and it has been steadily producing sweet, pink fruit for almost a month. I have probably harvested eight fruit from it, which is a record for my hearts. Rose de l'Omio is also very productive although her fruit has just started to ripen.


    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 1:46PM
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I've been harvesting by the boxful for the last few weeks, although now late blight is looming in our region-- so we'll see how long that lasts.
Utopia, I am a bit East of you in Laurel Highlands and so about 10 days behind you on account of cooler weather. Have about 10 Wes in patch and no blight thus far. Using 2,4,5,6-tetrachloroisophthalonitrile (Daconil) as anti-fungal and the stuff is effective if properly applied. Do not want to bathe in this chemical and do take some precautions. But I am really not exposed to much of it in my spraying activities.
Now, King James, sometimes ya just get some duds/runts for some reason. Those in image are not that bad but have poor primary stem and foliage development. Wes in below image are all strong plants with a lot of wispy foliage and rather robust main stems. And no ripes yet either.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 2:39PM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

Elisabeth, I think it's best to use the whole name, which would be Orange Russian #117, bred by Jeff Dawson in CA and which I've grown.

I've grown Blush, bred by Fred Hempel in CA and it doesn't have wispy foliage. The only other one he bred that comes close is Lucinda, which few know, but it has Silvery Tree type foliage. I've also grown Speckled Roman, aka Striped Roman, bred by John Swenson, and a couple of folks have found that it's not stable, yet, and throws some yellow fruited plants and that's been named Roman Candle.

Coyote is a curious one. Initial seeds given to my best tomato friend of over 20 years, Craig Lehoullier, best known for Cherokee Purple, and it's bounced back and forth in SSE listings but has pretty much settled in the Other Species section as a currant variety, S. pimpinellifolium.

I love your pictures since just greenies here, too cold and too rainly, but as is oft said, hope springs eternal. ( smile)

Hope the above helps,


    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 6:02PM
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THANKS for ALL the great advise and comments guys... I'm chalking this year up to over-watering and my poor decision to prune some of the oxhearts (rookie mistake i know). Reggie & Elisabeth, great pics! Jealous!!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 10:12AM
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