Heirloom tomatoes outdo their grocery store cousins in size, flavor and taste. The varieties are almost limitless as you begin to explore the world of heirloom tomatoes. With a little work in the early spring and a lot of sunshine in the height of summer, growing heirloom tomatoes can yield an abundant crop. These plants grow bigger and heavier then their standard relatives so give them space, air and water and harvest the delicious results.
Select a sunny area to plant heirloom tomatoes. For successful growth your plants will need at least 6 to 7 hours of sunlight a day. If you have the luxury of more sun, you will find your plants produce to optimum capacity with 10 to 12 hours of sunlight a day.
Prepare the planting area by digging out the soil to a depth of at 14 to 21 inches and removing rocks, sticks and debris. Mix the soil with rich organic compost and replace in the planting area.
Remove all the foliage up to the last 2 to 3 inches of the plant by pinching off the leaves and buds. Or, use a sharp paring knife to nip the growth from the stem.
Dig a hole that is 2/3 as deep as your entire tomato seedling from pot bottom to tip. Place ¼ cup of organic plant food in the bottom of the hole and mix it with the surrounding soil.
Remove your tomato seedling from the nursery pot by turning the plant on its side and gently wiggling it free from the container. Be careful not to break the fragile stems of the new plants.
Plant your tomato seedling in the ground so that the root ball and 2/3 of the stem are buried. The plant will send out roots from the stem, increasing the strength and feeding ability of the plant.
Fill in the earth around your new plant and water thoroughly. Use the soaker setting of a hose or run soaker hoses around your new plants. Water slowly and deeply to insure that the moisture has penetrated to the base of the root system. Avoid watering the leaves of the plant.
Cover the ground with a 4- to 5-inch layer of straw or other organic mulch. This will keep consistent moisture around the roots of the plant during the growing season.
Build a sturdy trellis or fence on which your tomatoes can grow. Heirlooms can reach heights of 6 feet and weigh more than average tomato plants, so a sturdy structure is necessary.
Pick the new fruit when the first hints of colors show on the outside. Leaving the tomatoes to ripen on the vine can be hazardous as insects and birds take advantage of the new fruit. Heirloom tomatoes left to ripen in the kitchen do just fine.