To me, summertime isn’t complete until I’ve pulled a big, red, ripe beefsteak tomato straight off the vine and bitten into it like an apple. If the thought makes you cringe, hey, you ain’t hardcore unless you garden hardcore. Beefsteak tomatoes are big, beautiful tomato plants that can grow tomatoes weighing 1-2 pounds depending on the variety. Due to their size, beefsteak tomatoes tend to mature later in the growing season, but they are well worth the wait.
Each type of tomato needs special care, and the beefsteak variety of tomato is no exception to that rule. So in this article, we’ll be talking about how to grow a bountiful crop of beefsteak tomatoes in your garden this year.
Growing Beefsteak Tomatoes
Before we start planting beefsteak tomatoes, let’s talk about what there is to know about this gorgeous vining vegetable.
- Latin name: Lycopersicon esculentum ‘Beefsteak’
- Native to: South America and Central America.
- Invasiveness: Not invasive
- Tenderness: Annual
- Sun: Full sun
- Water: 1-2 inches per week
- Soil: well-drained, nutrient-rich soil
- Hardiness zone: 1-10
- When to plant: Indoors 8 weeks before final frost
- Spacing: 24-36 inches
- Plant height: Up to 8 feet
- Bloom period: Summer
- Time to maturity: 85 days
- Container friendly: Yes
- Fertilizer: 8-32-16 or 6-24-24
- Toxicity: Stems and leaves may be toxic
- Deer resistant: No
- Pest resistant: Somewhat
The beefsteak tomato is a variety of tomato stemming from the wild variant, which is native to South America and Central America. Tomatoes in general are not considered to be invasive, as their spread is typically contained by winter months in the Northern Hemisphere. If you allow a tomato to rot over winter, you may find it sends up ‘volunteer’ tomato plants in the spring, but these are easy to dispatch if not wanted.
Beefsteak tomatoes require full sunlight, 1-2 inches of water per week, and can be grown in any hardiness zone in the United States. That said, you will want to give your beefsteak tomatoes an 8 week head start indoors, so if planting by seed, plant 8 weeks before the final danger of frost in your area. This could be as early as March 1, depending on your location.
Beefsteak tomatoes can be planted outdoors when the final danger of frost has passed. Space your beefsteaks 24-36 inches apart and expect growth up to 8 feet tall. You will need to provide heavy cages to support the growth of the massive beefsteak tomato.
Read More: How To Grow 8 Foot Tomatoes Every Time
These tomatoes can definitely be grown in containers (more on that later) and can be provided a 8-32-16 or 6-24-24 fertilizer every 3 weeks. Tomatoes are not generally considered toxic, although their stems and leaves may be toxic to some. These are not deer resistant plant and are somewhat pest resistant, though they may be impacted by typical tomato pests and diseases.
Beefsteak tomatoes require a good amount of water to produce the massive, 1 to 2 pound beefsteak tomato fruits. Large fruiting tomato varieties are very thirsty, and beefsteaks in particular will want 1 to 2 inches of water provided every week. If the top of the soil appears dry, it is likely time to water your tomatoes again.
Beefsteak tomatoes are intolerant of anything other than full sun. They should be provided a minimum of 8 hours of direct sunlight daily. Tomatoes planted in part shade are not likely to grow optimally and produce fruit. In general, fruiting plants require full sun.
Beefsteak tomatoes need well-drained, nutrient-rich soil that’s just slightly acidic, with a pH of about 6.2 to 6.8. Tomatoes need lots of nutrients to grow their large fruits, so mulching in compost at time of planting and providing fertilizer regularly will ensure good plant development and delicious tomatoes at harvest time.
Fertilizing beefsteak tomatoes is important. Tomatoes that grow large fruit require lots of nutrients in order to produce a good harvest for you. Administer an 8-32-16 or 6-24-24 fertilizer to your tomato plants every three weeks to get the most out of your vines.
Beefsteak tomatoes are not considered to be invasive outside of their native range, but they can send up ‘volunteers’ in the spring if any of their fruit has been left to rot over winter. These seedlings aren’t hard to dispose of if you don’t want them and they are not likely to spread out of control by any stretch of the imagination. Still, always plant with care when planting something outside of its native range. Check with local gardening groups if you’re concerned about the invasiveness or safety of any plant.
Growing Beefsteak Tomatoes in containers
Tomatoes are excellent container plants, and the beefsteak tomato is no exception. For these tomatoes, you will want to select a very large pot and fill with extremely nutrient dense, well-draining, slightly acidic soil. Beefsteak tomatoes can grow to a massive 8 feet tall and develop heavy fruit, which makes it a susceptible variety of tomato to tipping if grown in a pot. Keep the soil most, well fertilized, and placed in a very sunny area.
Read More: How To Grow Tomatoes In Containers
Care & tips
The two most important tips for growing bodacious beefsteak tomatoes is fertilize and cage! You will need to provide heavy duty cages to help the plant hold up its massive fruit. Pruning your beefsteak tomatoes regularly is also a good call. Remove any wild branches that jet out from the cages, cutting them back to a 1/4 inch from the stem. You may also want to remove unproductive suckers that emerge from the point where leaves meet the stem. These suckers are unlikely to bear fruit in time for the harvest, so remove them in order to provide additional energy to the rest of the planet.
Read More: How To Prune Tomatoes For A Better Harvest
Beefsteak tomatoes aren’t considered to be pest resistant or deer resistant. You will need to protect your tomato plants from deer, squirrels pests, and diseases. Another common issue with these tomatoes is the size of their fruit and improper support structures. You will want to be sure to provide a very solid cage to help support the weight of the vine’s fruit as they develop. Beware of blight if you live in a very humid area.
Propagating Beefsteak Tomatoes
The two ways to propagate beefsteak tomatoes are through saving the seeds and propagation through cuttings. It is unlikely that your beefsteak tomato will develop in time to bear fruit before winter if taken from a cutting, however. If you intend to preserve your beefsteak tomato seeds, you should check out our comprehensive guide on saving and storing tomato seeds.
History of Beefsteak Tomatoes
The origin of the beefsteak tomato wasn’t clear for a very long time. Wild tomatoes produce a small-berry like fruit, but it’s said that the first tomatoes brought to Europe by colonialist conquistador Hernan Cortez were the large, beefsteak tomatoes that we know and love today. Scientists have managed to trace back the origin of the beefsteak tomato not to any hybridization or genetic modification, but to a freak natural mutation that produced unusually massive tomato fruits. Since then, the beefsteak tomato has been preserved for its delicious flavor and huge fruits.