Top 9 Tips for Growing Highly Productive Beefsteak Tomatoes

Beefsteak tomatoes are also called “slicers” and they’re just so perfect sliced up on your sandwich or burger. These plants are easy to grow with these simple tips for success.

Choose the Right Variety

Beefsteak tomatoes.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

Selecting the right variety of beefsteak tomato is the first step for achieving high productivity. Popular and productive varieties include ‘Big Beef,’ known for its disease resistance and high yield; ‘Brandywine,’ famous for its rich flavor and large fruits; and ‘Cherokee Purple,’ which offers a unique, sweet taste. Consider your local climate and growing conditions when choosing the variety. For instance, ‘Big Beef’ performs well in various climates, while ‘Brandywine’ prefers cooler temperatures.

Start with Healthy Seedlings

Beefsteak tomatoes.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

The foundation of a productive tomato plant begins with healthy seedlings. When purchasing or growing your own seedlings, look for those with thick, sturdy stems and dark green leaves. Avoid leggy seedlings or yellowing leaves, as these signs indicate stress or poor health. If growing from seeds, ensure they are sown 6-8 weeks before the last frost date, and provide ample light to prevent them from becoming leggy.

Plant Deeply in Well-Draining Soil

Beefsteak tomatoes.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

Beefsteak tomatoes thrive in well-draining soil rich in organic matter. Amend your soil with compost, well-rotted manure, or organic matter to improve its structure and fertility.

Planting beefsteak tomato seedlings deeply helps develop strong, sturdy root systems. When transplanting, bury the stem up to the first set of true leaves. This encourages the plant to produce additional roots along the buried stem, providing better support and increased access to nutrients and water. A robust root system is essential for supporting the large fruits and overall health of beefsteak tomato plants. This method also helps the plant anchor itself firmly in the soil, reducing the risk of toppling over as it grows.

Provide Adequate Spacing

Beefsteak tomatoes.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

Proper spacing is important for ensuring good air circulation and preventing the spread of diseases. Plant beefsteak tomatoes at least 24-36 inches apart in rows that are 3-4 feet apart. This spacing allows each plant enough room to grow and reduces the likelihood of fungal infections, which can thrive in humid, crowded conditions. Proper spacing also makes it easier to manage the plants and access them for pruning and harvesting.

Water Consistently & Mulch

Beefsteak tomatoes.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

Consistent watering is key to preventing problems like blossom end rot and fruit cracking. Water your beefsteak tomatoes deeply and regularly, aiming for at least 1-2 inches of water per week, either from rainfall or irrigation. Use a soaker hose or drip irrigation to deliver water directly to the root zone, reducing the risk of foliage diseases caused by overhead watering. Mulching around the base of the plants can help retain moisture and keep the soil temperature stable.

As the fruits redden on the vine, withhold watering. This will encourage the plant to speed up ripening and will make for a better flavor.

Prune and Support Your Plants

Beefsteak tomatoes.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

Pruning helps beefsteak tomato plants focus their energy on producing fruit rather than excessive foliage. Remove the suckers that grow in the crotch between the stem and branches, as these can divert energy away from fruit production. Use stakes, cages, or trellises to support the plants and keep the heavy fruits off the ground. This support system prevents the stems from breaking under the weight of the fruit and improves air circulation around the plants.

Monitor for Pests and Diseases

Beefsteak tomatoes.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

Regularly inspect your beefsteak tomato plants for signs of pests and diseases. Common pests include aphids, tomato hornworms, and whiteflies. Use organic pest control methods such as neem oil, insecticidal soap, or introducing beneficial insects like ladybugs. Diseases like blight, wilt, and mosaic virus can be managed by practicing crop rotation, maintaining proper spacing, and removing affected plant parts promptly.

Companion Planting with Herbs

Beefsteak tomatoes.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

Companion planting with herbs can enhance the growth and flavor of your beefsteak tomatoes while helping to repel pests. Basil and thyme are excellent choices for this purpose. Planting basil near your tomatoes can improve their flavor and deter pests like aphids, whiteflies, and hornworms. Basil’s aromatic oils are natural insect repellents, making it a beneficial companion for your tomatoes.

Thyme is another herb that pairs well with tomatoes. It can help repel tomato hornworms and other harmful insects. Thyme attracts beneficial insects like bees and parasitic wasps, which can help control pest populations. By incorporating these herbs into your tomato garden, you create a more balanced ecosystem that promotes healthier plants and a more abundant harvest.

Harvest at the Right Time

Beefsteak tomatoes.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

Beefsteak tomatoes are ready to harvest when the first blush of pink appears on the fruit. This stage, known as the “breaker stage,” is when the tomato begins to ripen, and its skin changes from green to pink. Harvesting at this stage has several benefits both for the fruit and the plant.

The science behind this involves the hormone ethylene, which tomatoes produce as they ripen. Once a tomato reaches the breaker stage, it continues to ripen off the vine due to the ethylene production. Harvesting at the first blush of pink allows the tomatoes to develop their full flavor and reduces the risk of damage from pests and weather while still on the plant.

Picking tomatoes early encourages the plant to produce more fruit. By reducing the load on the plant, it can redirect its energy towards growing and ripening new tomatoes. This practice can lead to a more continuous and abundant harvest throughout the growing season.

Grow Your Best Tomatoes Ever

Beefsteak tomatoes.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

Learn More: 15 Secrets To Growing Killer Tomatoes This Season

Delve Into Companion Planting

red ripe tomatoes grown in a greenhouse.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

Learn More: The Best & Worst Companion Plants For Tomatoes (According to Science)

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