Tomato growers and devotees of the fruit find themselves longing for a fresh from the vine tomato in late fall and winter. Fear not, fellow tomato aficionados, there is a storage tomato called the Long Keeper. What is a Long Keeper tomato? If you’re interested in growing Long Keeper tomatoes, read on to find out how to grow Long Keeper tomatoes and about Long Keeper tomato care.
What is a Long Keeper Tomato?
Long Keeper tomatoes are storage tomatoes grown specifically to be stored so they can be enjoyed in the early winter. While there are not many to choose from, there are several varieties of storage tomatoes. These include the Red October, Garden Peach, Reverend Morrows, and Irish Eyes Long Keeper.
Long Keepers are a semi-determinate tomato that takes 78 days to harvest. The fruit is harvested before frost when it is a pale blush and stored at room temperature until ripened into a red orange about one and a half to three months post-harvest.
How to Grow Long Keeper Tomatoes
Unlike other tomatoes that are usually seeded by March, Long Keeper seeds should be started in early May. Prepare a bed in full sun for the tomatoes by turning it to work in left over plant material and allow it to decay. This may take four to six weeks. Dig fertilizer into the soil a few days before planting.
The soil pH should be 6.1 or above to prevent the incidence of blossom end rot. A soil test should be taken to determine if any amendments are needed.
Moisten the soil prior to transplanting. Remove any blossoms from the seedlings. Plant the tomato deeper than its current container, up to the top few leaves on the stem. This will help support the plant and foster root growth all along the buried stem to absorb more nutrients.
For the first week, shield the tomato seedlings from direct sunlight until they can acclimate to outdoor conditions.
Long Keeper Tomato Care
Care for Long Keeper tomato plants as you would other types of tomato. Water deeply and regularly, one inch (2.5 cm.) of water per week depending upon weather conditions. This will help avoid blossom end rot and cracking. Once the fruit is ripening, ease up on the water a bit.
Long Keeper tomatoes are ready to harvest when they are blush colored in the late fall. They can be removed from the vine and stored in an apple box or canning jar box that has cardboard separators that will keep the fruit from touching. Store them in a cellar or cool basement. It is said that you can also remove the entire plant and hang it in a cellar for storage.
Tomatoes should keep for up to three months and maybe even longer. Keep a close eye on them and check them every few days for any rotting.