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Old February 26, 2017   #1
Starlight
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Default A Heart to Heart

Besides my orange colored tomatoes, my main focus this year is on heirloom heart and paste tomatoes. I've only ever grown Anna Russian and a Brad's Black Heart. I didn't know about Tomato Tone when I grew them and I only got a couple of tomatoes and at the time didn't have the best looking plants either, but I sure did love the flavor of the few I got.

Last year, thanks to TV folks, I had the best crop of tomatoes I ever had. Mainly grew all cherry types. Now I'm ready to step up a tomato size.

I need some advice about growing hearts and pastes. I'm not sure if they need more ferts, care, or whatever than what the cherries did. Also I'm not sure what size containers to use. My biggest containers are a 3 gallon. 3 gallons I can easily pick up and move if I have to as weather conditions change.

On average too, about how many tomatoes does a heart plant produce? I'm hoping to get more than two or three tomatoes off a plant, but not sure if they produce only a few tomatoes per plant and if I need to sow more seeds and have more plants to get a decent crop.

Do heart plants normally get tall. Do I have to do any prunning?

Also, are their any special diseases or other things I need to keep an eye out for and worry about with the hearts?

I'm excited for this year, but also a bit nervous. Got my wish of some hearts from the MMMM swap and need to grow to pass on too, but just don't know anything about their growth habits and culture. Just know I enjoy eating them.

So, would appreciate you sharing any knowledge you have about your hearts, so I can try and grow some pretty and tasteful hearts this year. I'm all ears and ready to learn and try different methods to hopefully find the perfect method for my conditions down here.
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Old February 26, 2017   #2
PaulF
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Heart-shaped tomatoes are very much like any other OP/Heirloom tomato plant. Most get very large, they produce lots or little just like other varieties. Like any other tomato plant, they may not do as well in a small container. Three gallons is pretty small. All my tomatoes are planted in-ground and they range in size from 5 feet tall to 10 feet tall and from 5 feet to 7 feet across depending on the variety.

Production depends on the variety, the year, the weather, the soil, etc., etc. Last year Hungarian Heart produced 50 tomatoes on one plant. The year before only 12 fruits. Pruning never happens with my tomatoes except to keep the bottom leaves from touching the ground. No special diseases affect heart shaped tomatoes than any other tomato plant. The same care in watering and fertilization applies to all tomato plants. In small containers, the plants probably will need to be watered more often and fed as the watering flushes out the available plant food. Rather than a high nitrogen plant food, I would once every week or ten days add a liquid fertilize low in N and higher in P and K to promote blossoming and fruit production.

Other than the shape of the fruit, nothing is out of the ordinary for hearts so far as care is concerned. Enjoy the flavor.
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Old February 27, 2017   #3
maxjohnson
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There are some difference. I notice oxheart plants are somewhat weaker when small, due to it's thin nature. They take sometime to get going compared to regular variety. Secondly the slender leaves allows more airflow, and less whiteflies as a result. Also means easier to spray the leaves if needed. I'm really digging this characteristic.

I don't think you will get too many with only 3 gallons. If that's the case I would limit the suckers as much as possible maybe.

Last edited by maxjohnson; February 27, 2017 at 03:15 PM.
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Old February 27, 2017   #4
Cole_Robbie
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I agree that you want a bigger container. Even a 5-gallon bucket is too small for a typical indeterminate. I usually grow dwarfs in 5 gallon buckets.

To get much yield out of a container that small, you'd have to make it basically a hydroponic plant and continually feed it through drip irrigation, into probably pure perlite as a media.

For mobility, are plant-on-wheels an option? You could make a wheeled platform for a larger container.
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Old February 27, 2017   #5
Starlight
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulF View Post
Heart-shaped tomatoes are very much like any other OP/Heirloom tomato plant. Most get very large, they produce lots or little just like other varieties. Like any other tomato plant, they may not do as well in a small container. Three gallons is pretty small. All my tomatoes are planted in-ground and they range in size from 5 feet tall to 10 feet tall and from 5 feet to 7 feet across depending on the variety.

Production depends on the variety, the year, the weather, the soil, etc., etc. Last year Hungarian Heart produced 50 tomatoes on one plant. The year before only 12 fruits. Pruning never happens with my tomatoes except to keep the bottom leaves from touching the ground. No special diseases affect heart shaped tomatoes than any other tomato plant. The same care in watering and fertilization applies to all tomato plants. In small containers, the plants probably will need to be watered more often and fed as the watering flushes out the available plant food. Rather than a high nitrogen plant food, I would once every week or ten days add a liquid fertilize low in N and higher in P and K to promote blossoming and fruit production.

Other than the shape of the fruit, nothing is out of the ordinary for hearts so far as care is concerned. Enjoy the flavor.
MMMMMMMMM... I didn't realize they could get that big. I realize mine won't probably being in a container, but just to be on safe side, I think I'll rethink spacing.

My goodness! I've had that many tomatoes on my cherries, but have never seen that many on a tomato plant before. Unreal! I can only dream. I'd love to have more than just a couple of tomatoes on a plant.

What kind of liquid fertilizer do you use and how much? I have a siphon fertilizer that I add my fertilizer too in a 5 gallon bucket of water. Maybe that where I been going wrong with the heirlooms. Too much MG. I get plants, but no fruits to speak of on the heirlooms.


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Originally Posted by maxjohnson View Post
There are some difference. I notice oxheart plants are somewhat weaker when small, due to it's thin nature. They take sometime to get going compared to regular variety. Secondly the slender leaves allows more airflow, and less whiteflies as a result. Also means easier to spray the leaves if needed. I'm really digging this characteristic.

I don't think you will get too many with only 3 gallons. If that's the case I would limit the suckers as much as possible maybe.
That's good to know about the oxheart plants. I'd probably be thinking something was wrong with the plant and really over feed it. I'll keep my eyes open for differences in the foliage with these guys. Thanks.

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Originally Posted by Cole_Robbie View Post
I agree that you want a bigger container. Even a 5-gallon bucket is too small for a typical indeterminate. I usually grow dwarfs in 5 gallon buckets.

To get much yield out of a container that small, you'd have to make it basically a hydroponic plant and continually feed it through drip irrigation, into probably pure perlite as a media.

For mobility, are plant-on-wheels an option? You could make a wheeled platform for a larger container.
Shoot..shoot and double shoot! So if I am understanding you all right, I need to have some bigger containers if I want to get more fruit production? What is the smallest container size I can go with if not a dwarf plant? Just one plant in the larger containers?

Wheels is out of the question. All my plants are kept up a foot or better off the ground. Too much flooding and nasties that come down and across property from other yards.

Let me ask you this, just crossed my mind. Would kitchen trash cans, the rectangle shaped ones work for growing in? Not sure how many gallons they hold, but thinking if I need to move at least with their shape I could tip, load on a dolly and try and move, either that or build several more shade shelters.

If the kitchen trash cans would work, they a whole lot cheaper than buying regular big round containers. I looked at some at hardware store the other day and 7 gallon containers were almost $25. I just can't afford that, especially for the number of plants I want to grow and I've checked nurseries around and while I can get all the free smaller containers I would need nobody has 5 gallon or larger available.
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Old February 27, 2017   #6
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You can grow in anything. Some people use the cloth re-usable shopping bags as grow bags.

However, cheaper plastic containers are often priced that way because the plastic does not have UV inhibitors in it, so a lot of them will not last more than a season or two in the sun. If it is a trash can meant to sit outside, then there should be UV inhibitors in it, but for an inside one, I would presume that it did not have them.
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Old February 27, 2017   #7
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In reply to Max: While there are a few oxhearts with wispy leaves, only a few are that way. Check on the variety. Of the 40 or so hearts I have grown most have leaves that rival any other variety for size. As for the strength of the stems, personally I have never had any heart with weak or thin stems. Maybe it is the way they are raised in my basement with a fan blowing on them that they have stockier stalks.

Star: Look for a fertilizer that is called "Bloom Booster" or "Flower Power" of some such. I get miracle-gro or Schultz or Master Gardener brand blue crystals that mixes with water with the formula 8-20-20 or somewhere in that neighborhood. Lots of vine and very few fruits is an indication of too much nitrogen.

I have friends who like to put tomatoes in gro-bags of 10 gallons or more. They put those wheeled trays under so they can be moved. You might look for a dwarf heart for a smaller sized plant. (dwarf purple heart or dwarf yellow heart)
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Old February 27, 2017   #8
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Fertigate with each watering and you could get away with 3 gallons. Make sure it's mostly or exclusively the nitrate form of N. Ammonium sulfate in the fertigation setting will give you BER.

Some hearts are more productive than others. These have produced well for me: Anna Maria's H, Larisa, Nicky Crain, Wes. Few seeds, meaty, and great tasting. Good luck!
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Old February 27, 2017   #9
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Starlight,last year I made a list of all the hearts I've grown and it was several hundreds, and that b/c I'm a dedicated heart lover.

They are almost all different so no conclusions can be made.

You say heirloom, but I wouldn't even limit it to that since there are some good ones that have been bred as well. Just go to Tania's site and pull up the link to hearts.

What I can't tell you is which ones might do better where you live and garden,since my experiences are in a much colder zone.

Just curious, but why heirloom paste tomatoes?From different countries perhaps?

Carolyn
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Old February 27, 2017   #10
Starlight
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cole_Robbie View Post
You can grow in anything. Some people use the cloth re-usable shopping bags as grow bags.

However, cheaper plastic containers are often priced that way because the plastic does not have UV inhibitors in it, so a lot of them will not last more than a season or two in the sun. If it is a trash can meant to sit outside, then there should be UV inhibitors in it, but for an inside one, I would presume that it did not have them.
Thanks! That's good to know. I didn't realize that.



Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulF View Post
In reply to Max: While there are a few oxhearts with wispy leaves, only a few are that way. Check on the variety. Of the 40 or so hearts I have grown most have leaves that rival any other variety for size. As for the strength of the stems, personally I have never had any heart with weak or thin stems. Maybe it is the way they are raised in my basement with a fan blowing on them that they have stockier stalks.

Star: Look for a fertilizer that is called "Bloom Booster" or "Flower Power" of some such. I get miracle-gro or Schultz or Master Gardener brand blue crystals that mixes with water with the formula 8-20-20 or somewhere in that neighborhood. Lots of vine and very few fruits is an indication of too much nitrogen.

I have friends who like to put tomatoes in gro-bags of 10 gallons or more. They put those wheeled trays under so they can be moved. You might look for a dwarf heart for a smaller sized plant. (dwarf purple heart or dwarf yellow heart)
I've heard of Bloom Booster, but haven't used it before. I'll look for some of it when I go to town next time. At about what size do I start feeding them the Bloom Booster?

Out of curiosity, how long do you blow a fan on yours and how far away. We had a few nice days where it got to almost 80F and the humidity was terrible and it not even growing season yet.

I might check into seeing about wheels. Not sure if I would have the strength to even pull something still that heavy. The mind thinks it's in mid 20's but reality is the body is 63 and with wimpy arms and neck injury from having big van rear door slammed shut on the neck, I have to watch what I lift and try and move.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Gerardo View Post
Fertigate with each watering and you could get away with 3 gallons. Make sure it's mostly or exclusively the nitrate form of N. Ammonium sulfate in the fertigation setting will give you BER.

Some hearts are more productive than others. These have produced well for me: Anna Maria's H, Larisa, Nicky Crain, Wes. Few seeds, meaty, and great tasting. Good luck!
I grew everything in 3 gallon last year and everything was just perfect, but again those where cherries. I have to water down here everyday and once drought and heat is on, sometimes twice a day.

Hummmmmmm. Now you got me wondering what kind of N I have. Gonna have to check my ferts to make sure it the one you suggested.

I had BER on one plant last year, but that I learned was because I was over watering and didn't know the plant liked to be really on the dry side.

Anna Maria's H. and Wes are on my grow list for this year. I'll have to check out the others.

Quote:
Originally Posted by carolyn137 View Post
Starlight,last year I made a list of all the hearts I've grown and it was several hundreds, and that b/c I'm a dedicated heart lover.

They are almost all different so no conclusions can be made.

You say heirloom, but I wouldn't even limit it to that since there are some good ones that have been bred as well. Just go to Tania's site and pull up the link to hearts.

What I can't tell you is which ones might do better where you live and garden,since my experiences are in a much colder zone.

Just curious, but why heirloom paste tomatoes?From different countries perhaps?

Carolyn
Yep, gotta love Tania's site. I spent alot of time there looking up the tomatoes I have besides getting some from her.

Two reasons for the paste tomatoes. One, I really enjoy the flavor of them. They actually go good in salads and on BLT's and Baloney and mayo sandwiches. A bit more slicing, but worth the time and effort.

The second reason is I want to learn to try and make some homemade sauces. Especially sauce for pizza. That and spaghetti and marinara sauce. Can't can, but I can freeze and some recipes I looked at all used paste tomatoes.


Thanks everybody!!!!!!!!! Good to know there heart growers around if I run into trouble. I appreciate the help and advice.
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Old February 27, 2017   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulF View Post
In reply to Max: While there are a few oxhearts with wispy leaves, only a few are that way. Check on the variety. Of the 40 or so hearts I have grown most have leaves that rival any other variety for size. As for the strength of the stems, personally I have never had any heart with weak or thin stems. Maybe it is the way they are raised in my basement with a fan blowing on them that they have stockier stalks.
If you grow your hearts under lights, that could make a difference in how wispy they look. I didn't notice much with my Golden King of Siberia plants under lights (I had them inside for up to a few months, I think), but I sure noticed it after the transplant outside! They grew in vines close to the ground kind of like the Red-seeded Citron watermelon does, in addition to being wispy. I don't think it ever rose a leaf higher than a few inches from the ground, after the transplant. It definitely wasn't bushy.

It had thin stems, and wispy (small, thin and sparse) leaves, but I don't think it was weak.

Last edited by shule1; February 27, 2017 at 08:33 PM.
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Old February 27, 2017   #12
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Star, I'm reading/learning about hearts right along with you. I wish I could offer advice, but I've only grown a couple hearts.

I even had a laugh along the way, when Cole wrote, "If it is a trash can meant to sit outside..." I thought, go to a tire service place and ask for old worn out tires... and plant in them. Then the Sanford and Son theme song played in my head.
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Old February 27, 2017   #13
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You could paint the outside of your containers with something that reflects UV rays, too.
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Old February 28, 2017   #14
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Star: After the first repot after growing at least two true leaves I will give the seedlings some regular plant food at less than half rate just to keep them going. I would not begin the bloom booster until your seedlings are outside in the containers and you are replenishing the fertility lost through watering and flushing out the food.

Inside with the fan; it is kept at maybe 6-8 feet away and on low and oscillate setting. Seems to help, but maybe that is up for discussion.
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Old February 28, 2017   #15
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Some of the hearts I've grown in containers (buckets): Zolotoy Korol, FishLake Oxheart and Kosovo, all very tasty.. FLO and Kosovo were a bit stingy perhaps, and suffered from occasional BER. I am not sure that any bigger container would have helped. All my tom plants grow in similar conditions (good organic soil, some fert pellets and composted horsemanure) and they tend to get large enough with enough trouble to try to keep them from falling over.
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