Imagine a gardenful of sweet, juicy bright red, thick-walled tomatoes ripe and ready to be picked. With just a few tomato seeds this can be your garden! The Heirloom Ace 55 VF tomato is an American classic that produces from seed abundant harvests of beautiful, low acidity fruit perfect for eating raw. Growing tomatoes, in general, is easy since they willing sprout almost wherever they land. However, growing the plant and producing nice-looking, bountiful fruits are two separate endeavors.
What Makes it Special?
An heirloom from the 1950s, this quintessential red tomato is a favorite with vegetable gardeners around the country. In looks and taste, it is the fruit everyone recalls when they think about tomatoes. This variety averages 10-ounce thick walled fruits with a 5-6″ diameter. The perfect size for fresh eating!
Also, did you know that tomatoes aren’t vegetables, but actually fruits? That’s right, one of our favorite garden vegetables is really a fruit, and a highly nutritious one, too.
What Is An Ace Tomato
When shopping for open sourced Non-GMO heirloom tomato seeds look for growing information on the seed packet. Some of the information included is whether they are determinate or indeterminate, their acid content, and which diseases and pests they are resistant to. All this data is essential to growing a successful harvest. And, for choosing a variety that will be the taste profile you want.
The Ace 55 boasts many desirable qualities for a tomato plant:
- Verticillium wilt resistant
- Fusarium wilt resistant
- Alternaria stem canker resistant
Because of the low-acid content, this heirloom variety is not ideal for water-bath canning. They must be pressure canned. The Ace variety is best eaten fresh.
What Makes The Ace 55 determinate or indeterminate?
This classification refers to how the plant grows. Determinate tomato plants grow to a specific height and then produce fruit when they are done maturing.
Indeterminate varieties do not have a predetermined size and will often go wild, reaching up to 8-feet tall, with long, winding branches. Indeterminate varieties must be pruned, while determinate types should never be pruned.
Most heirloom tomatoes are indeterminate, but the Ace 55 is not. There is no difference in quality or production between the types, but this information is vital to understand the best way to tend the plant.
Indeterminate plants cannot be grown in containers.
Tomato plants are susceptible to many diseases and pests, which is unfortunate. Anyone who has grown them in the past knows how tricky it is to produce round, untarnished, beautiful fruits. The fruits often grow abundantly but have blemishes, markings, or cracks. The Ace 55, however, is resistant to the three most common issues tomato vegetable gardeners face.
This 1950 heirloom variety is sweet, juicy, and yummy. It is perfect for canning, fresh salads, and sandwiches, and it is well ahead of other varieties in terms of success.
The Process Of Growing The Ace 55 Tomato
Since the Ace 55 is determinate, it can be planted in the garden or in containers or pots or easily grown on decks, balconies, and along fences.
This flexibility opens up huge possibilities for growing heirloom Ace 55 seeds. These tomato seeds average 80 days to maturity, which means they grow well in most climates. Early-season tomato seeds require 50 to 60 days to maturity and can be grown as a fall or winter crop depending on the zone or if growing indoors.
- Step one start Ace 55 tomato seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last expected frost. Use starter trays or small pots and high-quality potting soil. Wet down the potting mix before planting the seeds. Make an indentation 1/4″ deep into the soil, place the seed in, and then cover with the soil. Ace tomato seeds have a high germination rate, so only plant as many as you have space for in the garden or deck.
- Soil temperature is important. Put the pots or trays in a sunny, warm location, like a south-facing window. The ideal soil temperature for these seeds to sprout is between 75-80F. Use heating mats or grow lights, if needed, to keep the soil warm enough and the location bright.
- Every day, spritz the soil with water to keep it moist. Never let it get soggy, or the seeds will drown. In 7-10 days, or at most 2 weeks, the seeds will sprout. Continue spritzing them with water every day and ensure they are getting enough light and warmth.
- When the tomato seedlings have 3-4 leaves, they are ready to be transplanted to larger containers. This happens around 30 days after planting the seeds.
- Use the same kinds of potting soil and wet it down before transplanting the seedlings. Make a hole in the center. Gently remove them from the starter trays using a small fork or knife to lift it up carefully. Be gentle with the roots. Place the whole root ball into the prepared hole and lightly press it in, patting the soil all around the base.
- Place the pots back in the warm, sunny location, and water them daily just as before.
- Once the outside temperature is consistently above 55F, the seedlings are ready to be hardened off. This simply means slowly acclimating them to the outdoor temperature before leaving them out there permanently. Each day, put the plants outside for a couple of hours, increasing the time until, by the end of 10 days, they are outdoors all day.
- If you are going to keep the Ace 55 tomatoes in containers, they are ready to be placed in their permanent location. Make sure it is a warm, full-sun spot!
- If you are transplanting the seedlings to an outdoor garden plot, place them 2-feet apart in rows that also 2-feet apart.
- All tomatoes need regular and consistent watering. A drip-irrigation system is ideal, but hand-watering also works as long as you are disciplined about it. Water requirements for this vegetable averages 2-3 inches per week. Always water at the roots, never from the top. Wet leaves encourage diseases to develop and also may cause leaf burn.
- Stake or trellis the tomatoes while they are still young; it’s easier this way! This heirloom variety grows between 3-5 feet tall and will need support.
- The tomatoes will be ready to harvest all at once. Be ready for them! Get the family on board for tomato picking day. Once you see them getting that deep red and the size is about right, plan on harvesting them very soon. Don’t wait, or the birds and small tomato-loving creatures will do it for you.
- Alternaria Stem Canker
- Fusarium Wilt
- Verticillium Wilt
- Basil repels pests and mosquitoes, can enhance and improve growth and flavor.
- Bee Balm, chives, and mint varieties can improve overall health and enhance flavor.
- Borage prevents tomato worm, improves growth rate, and enhances the flavor.
- Marigold deters nematodes
- Pot Marigolds deters tomato worm and general garden pests.
- Tomatoes and Corn are attacked by the same worm.
- Dill may stunt tomato growth.
- Kohlrabi stunts tomato growth.
- Tomatoes and Potatoes are attacked by the same diseases.
- Borage and squash
- Pot marigolds and nasturtiums
Ace 55 Gardening Tips
- You don’t have to worry about verticillium wilt, fusarium wilt, or Alternaria stem canker disease since Ace 55 seeds are resistant to these. All tomato varieties are prone to specific pests, and this variety is no different. Be on the lookout for tomato hornworms, slugs, and rodents. If the weather is especially humid, plants may suffer from early or late blight fungal diseases.
- Frost kills these plants quickly. If there is any chance of frost, harvest all the tomatoes, even if they’re not fully ripe. Tomatoes do continue to ripen off the stem. Also, fried green tomatoes are delicious!
- These heirloom seeds benefit from nutrient-rich soil, as do all tomatoes. Don’t add fertilizer, as this can negatively affect the growth. Fertilizer often causes the foliage to produce exponentially but doesn’t help the fruits to set or grow. Instead, amend the soil with compost before planting to ensure it will have all the nutrients the plants need.
- The best time to buy vegetable seeds of any kind is in January or February when they first become available. After that, their availability may be scarce, especially for highly sought after seeds like the Ace 55. Many seed companies are experiencing shortages recently due to high demands.
If you’ve been wanting a reliable and abundant tomato harvest, these heirloom seeds are an excellent place to start. There’s a reason gardeners have been growing them for years — they always produce well and the fruits are delicious. For new gardeners, the Ace 55 is the perfect starter seed.