Tips for Growing Beefsteak Tomatoes Indoors
Are you wondering how to grow beefsteak tomatoes indoors?
Maybe you have been thinking of growing beefsteak tomatoes but do not have enough space in your yard and the high cost of putting up a greenhouse makes you shy away from the venture.
You need not worry any more, because I’m here to help you by providing tips on how to grow beefsteak tomatoes indoors without the need for a costly greenhouse.
Lucky for you, I have grown beefsteak tomatoes indoors myself, and in this guide, I will be sharing with you the steps you will need to take to get plentiful harvest.
Benefits of Growing Beefsteak Tomatoes Indoors
One of the benefits of growing your own beefsteak tomatoes indoors is that it helps you maximize available space. You can grow your tomatoes in grow bags, a pot, or any other containers even if you don’t have enough space in your yard.
Another benefit is that it gives you the opportunity to plant tomatoes all year round so you can enjoy a steady supply throughout the year.
In addition to the above, you choose what fertilizers and insecticides to use.
If you really want organic tomatoes, grow your own plants organically. That way, you can vouch that they are indeed organic. It saves you a lot of money too!
Moreover, growing your own tomatoes gives you the opportunity to witness the growth process all the way from planting the seed/transplanting your seedling to harvest.
What types of Beefsteak Tomatoes Do Well Indoor?
Fortunately, there are many varieties from which you can select.
Big Beef: This variety takes 70 days to grow fully. They generate fruits that weight up to 12 ounces and are excellent for salads and sandwiches.
Brandywine Pink: It’s a well-known heirloom variety. It produces enormous fruits with beautiful pumpkin-like ridges all over them.
Black Krim: This type produces 16-ounce fruits. They are reddish-pink in color and have meaty flesh and few seeds.
German Johnson: It is another heirloom variety and takes only 80 days for the fruits to be ready for harvest. They are dark purple in color and have a sweet flavor.
Cherokee Purple: This variety produces prominent pink-purple color with a sweet flavor. It takes 80 days to grow fully.
How to Grow Beefsteak Tomatoes Indoors – Simple Steps to Follow
Choose a Suitable Container
Avoid smaller containers if you want your beefsteak to thrive. Beefsteak plants are heavy feeders; thus, they will require more room for optimal growth and best performance. Therefore, you should use a container that is at least 1 to 2 square feet.
Also, avoid growing your tomato plant with other plants like herbs. Indoor plants always compete for moisture and nutrients.
Additionally, use fabric grow-bags indoor. Fabric grow-bags serve the best, and they are the cheapest choice. Moreover, these bags are well-aerated and can be both non-degradable and gradable. You can also easily carry them around when you need to move the plants.
If you are using a gallon container, fill it to the three-quarter mark with well-drained, loose, fertile soil. Make a hole in the center and transplant the tomato seedling.
If you are to go the big old bathtub in a patio route, space your plants at least 60×30 cm to 60×60 cm from each other.
You can have a single stem per hole or two stems per hole. If you are planting two seedlings per hole, adopt the 60x60cm spacing so that there won’t be much competition for nutrients by the plants.
Choose the Right Soils
When growing beefsteak tomatoes indoors, it’s best to use potting mix. This is very important because beefsteak tomatoes are heavy feeders and the potting mix is a blend of organic matter and various nutrients like potassium, phosphorus, etc.
To avoid spreading diseases and pests, do not reuse the soil.
Remember to add mulch to the soil because it helps loosen it for more robust roots. Finally, use soil with a pH level, around 6.5.
Plant You Tomatoes (Seeds or Seedlings)
You can grow beefsteak tomatoes using seeds or seedlings. While it may be cheaper to use seeds, seedlings will save you about 8 weeks. That being said, you may not be able to get seedlings to buy all year round and they come in limited varieties.
If you are using seeds, add the potting mix into a small container or preferably a cup, water the potting mix and plant your seeds – one seed per cup.
It will take seeds 6-12 days to sprout at a temperature of 70-80 F. In 6-8 weeks, you can transfer your seedlings to a bigger pot. And once the seedlings are 8 inches in height, you transfer them again to a larger container.
Always buy your seedlings from trusted seedling suppliers.
Provide LED Grow Light
Beefsteak tomatoes are sun-loving plants. Studies show that tomatoes require about 6-8 hours of sunlight a day, temperatures of between 70 and 80 degrees.
Without optimal temperatures, tomatoes will have delayed leaf initiation rates and take long before the fruit can fully ripen.
Since you can have access to direct sunlight when growing your tomatoes indoors, LED grow lights are your best options.
But since you can’t access sunlight indoors, the LED grow lights cater to that. These lights are great, especially if you intend to have a constant supply of organic beefsteak tomatoes.
During the germination period, expose the seedlings to light; 12 hours for a minimum of 3 to 5 weeks. Increase that to about 14 to 16 hours for the next 2 to 3 weeks. Subsequently, maintain a 10 hours light exposure per day until your plants bear fruits.
Stake Your Plants to Offer Support
Staking provides support for weak tomato stems, helping them stand upright.
It can help eliminate the ugly, coarse, ridged tomato fruits that appear on the first clusters of your plant if done properly.
With staking, you can avoid the development of thin, poorly colored feeble fruits that would otherwise form on the top clusters of your plant.
Beefsteak tomato plants can grow up to 8 feet, so they really need support as the stems are fragile and can’t support themselves.
Staking can be done using strings and hooks. But the easiest way is to buy trellis for your tomatoes.
Pruning entails cutting off some of the buds so that your plant does not look too bushy.
However, early and regular pruning is not appropriate for the health and growth of your plant.
What’s the right way to do it?
Pruning should start once the tomato plant is about one foot high
Get rid of any yellow leaves on the plants. That is because they only eat the plant’s sugars. Also, take out new suckers if they alter the produce.
Beefsteak tomatoes are heavy feeders, and they need sufficient amounts of water. Water your tomatoes generously but not too often. Short dry spells leads to stunted growth, badly affects fruit quality, and reduces crop yield.
As you water your plants, do not sprinkle directly on the leaves (this could lead to the spread of diseases) but rather at the root zone.
Shortage of water supply could lead to delayed yield, while too much watering, especially, in poorly drained soils could increase the prevalence of pests and diseases.
Excessive watering has also been found to wash nutrients downwards where your tomato roots cannot reach. You surely do not want this, do you?
To avoid excessive watering, you can use a trickle irrigation system that does really well when combined with vetch mulch.
According to a report written by the University of California Agriculture Department, you should not water the tomato plant generously throughout the tomato’s lifecycle.
You can do so in the early days when the plant is maturing and about to bloom. As it starts to develop fruits, reduce the water supply and cut it out to a tiny drizzle as the fruits start to ripen.
Feeding Your Tomatoes (Fertilizer Application)
For excellent yields, fertilize your tomatoes every week.
You can use diluted Liquid Kelp, fish emulsion or vermicompost tea to keep your plants healthy so that they can produce good fruits.
For a start, after transplanting your seedlings, apply fertilizer to your tomatoes every 10 days until they start blooming. At this stage, you can change the fertilizer application pattern to every 14 days.
Stop fertilizer application altogether when tomato fruits start to appear since the plant is too old to absorb nutrient at this stage.
Before applying any fertilizer, soil evaluation needs to be done to test what the soil is deficient in as well as its PH.
Help with Pollination
Without pollination, your plants will not produce any fruits. Insects play an important role in pollination. And since there are no insects indoors, you will have to help pollinate your plants.
Once the plant flowers, you can use a Q tip or cotton swab to transfer the pollen around the plants’ flowers. Or you can simply tap on the stems to distribute the pollen.
Pest and Disease Control
There’s minimal risk of pests or diseases when growing your tomatoes indoors since you’re changing soil whenever you want to plant another crop.
That being said pest and diseases are among the things you will have to battle when growing tomatoes whether you are growing your crops in a greenhouse, indoors or outdoors.
Some of the pests that attack tomatoes include:
- Tomato hornworms
- Flea beetles
The use of soap and water sprays has been an earth-friendly way to get rid of most pests.
You can also use neem oil for pest and disease control.
In dire cases though, you may have to use insecticides and fungicides.
Certain tomato cultivars have also been found to be pest and disease tolerant in different regions.
It usually takes beefsteak 70 to 85 days to be ready for harvest. Harvest when the fruits fully ripen. Fully ripen fruit are rich in juices, meaty flesh, and nutrients.
How to Speed Up Ripening of Tomatoes
If you want to speed up the time it takes for your fruit to be ready, you can chill your beefsteak tomatoes to increase the synthesis of ethylene, the chemical responsible for the ripening of fruits.
This chilling effect has been found to increase the rate of ripening of the fruits.
How to Increase the Shelf Life of Tomatoes
In order to increase the shelf life of your tomatoes, you can apply aloe vera gel and chitosan. This has been shown to give you an extra 42 days before the tomatoes can get rotten or go bad.
Conclusion – How to Grow Beefsteak Tomatoes Indoors
Yes, you can successfully grow beefsteak tomatoes indoors without a greenhouse. You just need to provide the environment and conditions for your plants to thrive and produce a bountiful harvest.