Ever dreamed of growing tomatoes ready to eat straight off the vine? If so, the Ace 55, an heirloom tomato from the 1950s that hasn’t been crossbred with other varieties, is a great choice for your home garden.
Famed for its sweet taste and crack-resistant fruit, the Ace 55 is a determinate tomato variety, meaning that plants grow to a specific height before producing tomatoes, as opposed to other varieties that grow more wildly. The good news about determinate tomato varieties is that they don’t require pruning.
Read on to learn more about the Ace 55 tomato, from how to grow your own plants to how to use this special variety of tomatoes in your kitchen.
Characteristics of the Ace 55 Tomato
The Ace 55 tomato was introduced by Asgrow Seed Company, now headquartered in Missouri, in 1964. A high-yielding variety, the Ace 55 tomato has long been a favorite for canning. These tomatoes have a long shelf life and are noted for their low acidity.
Ace 55 tomatoes can grow up to five inches in diameter, weighing 10 to 12 ounces each, on plants that grow from three to five feet tall. These tomatoes are noted for their low acidity and have a long shelf life.
Eating the Ace 55 Tomato
Because it at its best when picked fresh out of the garden, the Ace 55 tomato is a perfect choice for quickly slicing into a salad. Its size at maturity, along with its low acidity and sweetness, also makes this tomato a perfect choice for a classic tomato sandwich, a perennial treat for home gardeners.
In addition to adding great tomato flavor to salads and sandwiches, low-acid tomatoes like the Ace 55 are the best choice for making sauces and pastes. For a tutorial on making tomato sauce, check out The Spruce Eats. To try your hand at tomato paste, take a look at The Kitchn.
Health Benefits of the Ace 55 Tomato
Tomatoes offer a large number of health benefits, due largely to the presence of lycopene, the chemical that gives the fruit its red color. In terms of human health, lycopene is an antioxidant, meaning that it combats “free radicals,” the name given to molecules that can adversely affect well-being.
As a result, lycopene may play a role in lessening the risk of lung cancer, stomach cancer and other cancers affecting numerous organs and tissues. And along with Vitamins B and E, also found in tomatoes, lycopene may also help to lower cholesterol and boost the immune system.
Low-acid tomatoes like the Ace 55 have the added health benefit of bringing their cancer- and disease-fighting capabilities to people who can’t tolerate more acidic varieties of tomatoes due to stomach problems and other dietary issues including acid reflux and ulcers.
Growing the Ace 55 Tomato
For a quick guide to growing tomatoes, with information that you can apply to get the Ace 55 established in your home vegetable garden, check out How To Grow Tomatoes: The Complete Guide.
If you’re a true home gardening novice, you should also take a look at How to Start a Tomato Garden in 9 Easy Steps.
As a determinate tomato variety, the Ace 55 is particularly suited to growing in small spaces, and can even be cultivated in containers. To learn more about container gardening for tomatoes, take a look at 9 of the Best Tomato Planters For Your Tomatoes.
When and Where to Plant Your Ace 55 Tomatoes
As with other varieties, you can plant Ace 55 seeds directly into the ground, but for best results, you should only do this if you live in a warm climate, and only after at least a few weeks have passed since the last frost.
But even if you do live in a place where you can plant seeds directly into your garden plot, you should strongly consider starting your Ace 55 seeds indoors. Doing so at least six to eight weeks before the last expected frost will mean your tomatoes are better equipped to thrive when transplanted outdoors.
When you do get your tomatoes planted outdoors, it’s best not to use fertilizer to help them grow. Instead, you should simply add compost to your garden spot.
Pests and Diseases
A bit of good news, particularly for new gardeners who may not be attuned to detecting early signs of plant disease, is that the Ace 55 variety is resistant to verticillium wilt, fusarium wilt, and stem canker, all major tomato diseases.
In terms of pests, anyone growing Ace 55 tomatoes should be on the lookout for tomato hornworms, the caterpillar form of what will become adult moths. As caterpillars, tomato hornworms feed on the tomato plant’s leaves.
Controlling tomato hornworms is a labor-intensive process, as the best approach is to physically pick them off the leaves, dropping them into a bucket of soapy water to kill them.
Pesticides are an option, but preventative measures, such as removing weeds from the garden, also are effective against hornworms.
Harvesting the Ace 55 Tomato
Because the Ace 55 is a determinate variety of tomatoes, the fruits of your labor all will be ready for harvesting over a very short period of time, usually around two weeks.
If you’d like to have a more manageable harvest, consider staggering the planting of your Ace 55 tomatoes to stretch out the harvest season.
You’ll know it’s time to harvest your tomatoes, which mature in about 75 days, when they are approaching their characteristic deep red color, and when they are at a diameter of around five inches.
When picking individual tomatoes, be careful not to squeeze them, and free them from the vine with a gentle twist, snapping them off just above the flower-shaped leaf at the top of the fruit. to ensure that you won’t damage your tomatoes, harvest them with a pair of garden scissors.
Where to Buy the Ace 55 Tomato
If you’d like to grow Ace 55 tomatoes, a packet of 90 seeds is available online at True Leaf Market. If you’re not quite ready to try growing your own Ace 55 tomatoes, you should know they are popular with commercial growers, and likely are available in season at a grocery store or farmers’ market near you.
Wrapping up the Ace 55 Tomato
We hope this post has provided you with the information you need to give the Ace 55 tomato a place in your backyard garden or has shown you how to use the Ace 55 tomato in your kitchen. For more on tomatoes, check out Minneopa Orchards.