Are you frustrated at the lack of available beefsteak tomato seed options locally? Confused about the different varieties? Unsure if beefsteaks are really what you want?
I’ve been there too. Don’t feel like you’re stuck with what your local stores have for sale. There’s so much more out there, and I’ll show you the best places to find them.
Not only will we cover where to find the best quality beefsteak seeds, but I’ll also show you the best way to get them to germinate and grow into healthy plants.
Next, we’ll go over helpful tips to get your plants off to a strong start. Stick with me to the end for a refresher on tomato care to ensure that you’ll have your best harvest yet. Let’s get started!
Beefsteak Tomato at a Glance
Popular Beefsteak Tomato Varieties
The classic Solanum lycopersicum ‘Beefsteak’ tomato is considered by most gardeners to be the only true beefsteak tomato, but the term beefsteak is widely used to describe many varieties that bear similar fruit.
Some of the beefsteak-type tomatoes are heirloom varieties while others are hybrids.
They can vary in color, disease tolerance, size, shape, texture, and more, but if they are considered a beefsteak-type tomato, expect large, fleshy, flavorful, ribbed fruit with small seed cavities from indeterminate vines.
The following 12 varieties of Solanum lycopersicum are quite popular and are fantastic producers.
- ‘Hillbilly’ – Heirloom; 1-2 pound yellow fruits with red streaks; sweet, mild flavor; heat tolerant; resists cracking.
- ‘Brandywine’ – Heirloom; pink-red, 16-24 ounce fruits; late to ripen; excellent flavor.
- ‘SteakHouse’ – Hybrid, fruits grow up to 3 pounds, deep red color, classic flavor, high yields, needs strong support.
- ‘Crimson Cushion’ – Heirloom; bright red, ribbed, 14-16 ounce fruit; nearly seedless; juicy yet firm; wilt resistant.
- ‘Big Beef’ – Hybrid; dark pink to red, 12-16 ounce fruit; high productivity; early maturing; high disease resistance.
- ‘Beefmaster’ – Hybrid; red, 1-2 pound fruit; heavy bearing; high yields; disease and crack resistant.
- ‘Pink Ponderosa’ – Heirloom; deep pink, 1-2 pound fruits; sweet, mild flavor; high yields; may have poor leaf coverage.
- ‘Cherokee Purple’ – Heirloom; dark red to purple, 10-12 ounce fruit rich in flavor; 20+ fruits per plant.
- ‘Goliath’ – Hybrid; 10-15 ounce red, firm fruit; disease resistant; early maturing.
- ‘Mortgage Lifter’ – Heirloom; pink to light red, 1-2 pound (though larger are possible) fruits; keeps producing late into the season; very flavorful.
- ‘Soldacki’ – Heirloom; dark-pink to light-red, 1 pound fruit; fruits often misshapen, superb flavor; high yields; ripens mid to late season.
- ‘Dr. Wyche’s Yellow’ – Heirloom; yellow fruit 1 pound or more in size; sweet, “fruity” flavor; heavy producer; meaty flesh.
Best Places To Buy Beefsteak Tomato Seeds
Beefsteak Tomato Seed Planting & Germination
- Seed starting tray, peat pots, or disposable cups
- Seed starting mix
- Spray bottle
- Heat mat (optional)
- Grow lights (optional)
1. Clean and Fill Seed Cups With Seed Starting Mix
Approximately 6-8 weeks before your expected last frost, thoroughly clean seed trays or use new peat pots or cups (with several holes poked in the bottom) on a sturdy tray.
Use a seed starting mix, or make your own by mixing equal parts of sphagnum peat moss, vermiculite, and perlite.
Fill each cell or cup to ½-1 inch from the top, and use a spray bottle to moisten the top layer of soil.
2. Plant 2-3 Seeds Per Cup and Moisten Soil
Use the eraser end of a pencil to make two small depressions in the soil, both near the center of the cup.
Place one seed in each depression. Cover with ¼ inch of soil. Moisten the soil again, and lightly tap down the soil with your fingers.
3. Cover Seed Cups and Provide Warmth
Place a humidity dome over the seed cups, or use plastic wrap to cover them. Place the seed tray in a warm location (65-80℉).
The use of a heat mat under the tray is recommended for consistent temperatures.
4. Keep Soil Moist Until Seedlings Emerge
Remove the covering to provide fresh air and check the soil moisture at least once per day. Moisten the soil as needed. In 5-8 days, seedlings should appear.
5. Remove Cover and Provide Light
As soon as seedlings emerge, remove the cover, and move the tray to an area with lots of bright light or place them under a grow light.
Turn the tray 90° every day if relying on window light to prevent the seedlings from growing to one side.
6. Thin When Seedlings Reach 3-4 Inches in Height
When seedlings are 3-4 inches tall, use sterilized scissors to snip off extra seedlings at soil level, leaving only one plant per cup. Do not neglect this step.
7. Start Hardening Off When Seedlings Are 4-6 Inches Tall
Gradually begin acclimating the seedlings to outdoor conditions as weather permits.
Begin by placing them outdoors in a sheltered area with filtered sunlight for just an hour or two when temperatures are above 50℉.
Each day thereafter, increase the time spent outdoors and the amount of direct sun.
8. Transplant Outdoors After Danger of Frost Has Passed
If the seedlings have outgrown their cups before it’s warm enough to plant outside, simply repot in larger containers.
Once all chances of frost are gone, transplant seedlings into prepared garden beds amended with plenty of compost and slow-release fertilizer.
Space plants at least 3 feet apart, and plant deeply, leaving only the top few leaves above ground. Water well to settle the plants, and place trellises, cages, or stakes in place.
8 Tips for Growing Beefsteak Tomatoes From Seed
- Store seeds properly – Keep seeds in a cool, dry, dark location until planting time.
- Soak seeds for 12-20 hours prior to planting.
- Use tweezers to pick up the seeds.
- Always sanitize seed trays and other equipment before use.
- Provide seedlings with plenty of light – A lack of sufficient light will result in leggy, weak seedlings.
- Refrain from touching seedlings unless absolutely necessary. Handling can lead to bruising, which becomes an entry point for disease.
- Use a plastic bin for hardening off seedlings. It’s easy to transport and helps block strong winds while allowing the plants to become gradually acclimated to outdoor conditions.
- Keep detailed records – keep track of germination rates, problems encountered, specific temperatures, etc. for future reference.
Growing & Caring for Beefsteak Tomatoes
Now that you have healthy beefsteak seedlings, hardened off and ready for planting, you’re well on your way to enjoying delicious tomatoes all season long.
However, your job isn’t quite done yet. Next, you need to provide your plants with the best growing conditions possible so that they can do their job – produce fruit for you!
It’s strongly recommended to have your garden soil tested well before planting.
Doing so will show you exactly what your soil does and doesn’t need, thus saving you from wasting money on unnecessary amendments.
Pay particularly close attention to the calcium and magnesium levels – these nutrients are critical for healthy tomato plants.
Also take note of the soil pH. Ideally, soil pH should be between 6.0 and 7.0.
For growing beefsteaks in pots, use half good-quality potting soil and half compost for best results. Alternatively, use a potting mix specifically formulated for tomatoes.
Once planting is complete, mulch deeply, and set your cages or stakes in place right away to prevent disturbing the roots later.
Beefsteak tomatoes require full sun, at least 8 hours per day, for optimal production.
They may survive in less light, but because they use sunlight to produce the energy needed to set fruit, they will not be productive in partial shade conditions.
Watering & Fertilizing
Strive to keep your beefsteaks’ soil consistently moist. Simply use your fingers to gauge soil dryness and water accordingly.
Water deeply, but avoid overwatering as this can lead to cracked fruit.
Soaker hoses are ideal for watering tomatoes because they prevent the possibility of soil (and diseases) from being splashed on the leaves.
During hot, dry periods, watering once or even twice per day is typically necessary.
Even with optimal garden soil, tomatoes will benefit from regular fertilization every two weeks once they begin to set fruit.
Beefsteak tomatoes taste best when allowed to fully ripen on the vine; however, the longer they remain on the vine, the greater opportunity pests, like stink bugs, have to ruin the fruit.
Pick fruit when it has just started to change colors, and allow it to ripen indoors.
Beefsteak Tomato Common Questions:
How Long Does It Take Beefsteak Tomato Seeds To Germinate?
Under ideal conditions, beefsteak tomato seeds will generally germinate within 5-8 days. Suboptimal growing conditions, such as temperatures below 65°F, overly dry or wet soil, or dense planting medium, can significantly hinder germination rates.
How Do I Speed Up Tomato Seed Germination?
Placing seed trays on a heat mat and keeping the soil mix evenly moist will speed germination. Presoaking seeds before planting may help as well.
Alternatively, germinate tomato seeds between two layers of moist paper towels. Seedlings should emerge in 1-3 days.
When To Start Beefsteak Tomato Seeds?
March is generally considered to be the ideal time to start beefsteak tomato seeds, but to be more accurate: start tomato seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before your last expected frost.
When planting outdoors, plant directly in the soil once all danger of frost has passed.