If you’re looking for an heirloom tomato that’s just as beautiful as it is delicious, check out the Berkeley Tie Dye. This red and green striped tomato is one of my favorite varieties due to its bold yet balanced flavor and exquisite coloring.
While there’s no denying this tomato is a winner, it’s often difficult to find at stores and markets. That means that growing your own is often the best option.
Keep reading to learn all you need to know about growing Berkeley Tie Dye tomatoes at home.
Berkeley Tie Dye Tomato – Quick Growing Guide
|Plant Type:||Annual vegetable||Tolerance:||Heat|
|USDA Hardiness Zone:||4–9||Maintenance:||Moderate to high|
|Season:||Summer and early fall||Soil Type:||Rich and well-aerated|
|Exposure:||Full sun||Soil pH:||6.2 to 6.8|
|Time to Maturity:||70–85 days after transplant||Soil Drainage:||Well-draining|
|Spacing:||24 inches||Companion Planting:||Lettuce, basil, beets|
|Planting Depth:||1/4 inch deep||Don’t Plant Near:||Potatoes, peas, pole beans, corn|
|Common Pests and Diseases:||Aphids, thrips, late blight, early blight, septoria leaf spot, anthracnose||Cultivar:||Berkeley Tie Dye|
About Berkeley Tie Dye Tomato
The Berkeley Tie Dye tomato was first developed by Brad Gates of Wild Boar Farms. Gates selected the tomato for its red, green, and yellow stripes and acidic yet balanced flavor.
The original Berkeley Tie Dye has green flesh with hints of red and yellow. While the flavor is acid-heavy, the tomato also has hints of sweetness and spice.
After the original Berkeley Tie Dye was developed, the Pink Berkeley Tie Dye followed. This variety has deep pink skin with dark green stripes.
Its flesh is dark pink with slight hints of yellow. The flavor is sweeter and less acidic than its green cousin but still complex and robust.
Both varieties are medium-sized tomatoes that weigh between 8–12 ounces. That means they’re a perfect size for slicing on sandwiches or dicing for salads.
The plants are indeterminate. This means they can get quite tall and also produce fruits over the course of a few months.
Where to Purchase Berkeley Tie Dye Seeds and Plants
If you’d like to start your own seeds, you can find Berkeley Tie Dye seeds through Wild Boar Farms. You can find Pink Berkeley Tie Dye seeds through Totally Tomatoes, Wild Boar Farms, and Johnny’s Selected Seeds.
Both types of Berkeley Tie Dye tomatoes are well-known in some gardening circles, but they are still rather rare in the larger gardening world. That means it may be hard to find seedlings at big box stores or greenhouses.
When to Plant Berkeley Tie Dye Tomatoes
Berkeley Tie Dye tomatoes should be planted out in the garden in the spring. Since these plants are sensitive to cold, you should wait until temperatures have warmed before you plant them outdoors.
You definitely need to wait until the danger of frost has passed. However, I also recommended waiting until nighttime temperatures are remaining above 50ºF.
If you are starting your own tomato seeds indoors, you should plant the seeds about two months before you wish to transplant your seedlings outdoors.
How to Plant Berkeley Tie Dye Tomatoes
Planting Berkeley Tie Dye tomato plants is similar to planting other types of tomato plants. I’ve written an article in detail here – How to grow heirloom tomatoes.
Follow these tips for the best results when growing this specific heirloom tomato variety.
Find a Suitable Location
Before you plant your tomatoes outdoors, you’ll want to find a suitable location.
First, look at the light. Choose a location that receives at least ten hours of bright light each day.
While these tomato plants can grow with less light, they will not thrive.
Next, look at the soil.
Avoid low-lying areas where water settles as well as areas that are extremely rocky. If the soil seems compacted, loosen the soil with a digging fork.
While tomatoes will grow best in areas with loamy soil, they can also grow well in soil that is heavy in clay or sand. If you’re worried about the soil texture, mix in a bit of aged compost to improve drainage and water-holding capacity.
If you’re serious about the health of your plants, I recommend conducting a soil test at least a few months before you plant your tomatoes. Follow the test results to correct the pH and apply any missing nutrients.
Choose the Proper Depth and Spacing
Once you have a good location, you should lay out your garden. If you’re planting multiple tomato plants, space them two feet apart. You can read this article for the correct spacing of tomato plants.
You can also tuck smaller places like lettuce, beets, and carrots near the base of your tomato plant.
When it comes time to plant, dig a hole that is a few inches deep than the plant’s root ball and place the plant in the hole. It’s okay if the soil is covering some of the stem—tomato plants will develop roots along portions of the stem that are buried.
However, you should make sure that at least six inches of the tomato plant is above ground.
Make sure to water well after planting!
Caring for Berkeley Tie Dye Tomato Plants
While Berkeley Tie Dye tomatoes are delicious, they require a fair bit of care. However, putting in a bit of hard work will lead to a fruitful harvest of remarkable tomatoes.
Since Berkeley Tie Dye tomatoes are indeterminate, they will continue to grow throughout the season. That means plants can easily reach over six feet tall, and ten-foot-tall plants aren’t unheard of.
To keep the plants tidy and manageable, I recommend trellising. There are many different trellising methods, and one isn’t necessarily better than another.
If you’re only growing a few tomato plants, you may wish to use simple metal tomato cages. These will help support the plants and keep them from sprawling all over your garden.
If you’re growing a row of tomato plants, you may want to opt for the Florida stake and weave method.
This method involves placing stakes about every four to five feet in a row of tomatoes. Tie a piece of twine down from one stake to the next along one side of the tomato plants and then repeat on the other side.
Continue to add new layers of twine as the plants grow to provide support.
I find that pruning tomato plants like Berkeley Tie Dye helps keep the plants a bit more manageable. It may also help prevent the development of disease.
No matter what part of the tomato plant you’re pruning, make sure you use sharp and sanitized tools. This will help the plants heal as quickly as possible and prevent the spread of disease from one plant to the next.
One great pruning step is to remove any lower leaves that are touching the ground. These leaves are often splashed with water that hits the soil, which can spread disease. Therefore, removing them can help prevent or slow the development of disease.
You can also choose to prune off the suckers—the shoots that emerge between the plant’s main stem and the leaves. This will limit the overall potential fruit production, but it will help keep the plants more manageable.
Remember that it doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing approach when it comes to pruning! I like to remove the suckers until the plants are about three or four feet tall and then let them do their thing.
Berkeley Tie Dye plants prefer soil that is consistently moist. They can handle short periods of moderate drought as well as saturated soils, but both of these events will stress the plant.
Therefore, your goal with watering should be to keep the soil moderately moist throughout the plant’s life. That means that watering a bit every other day is better than watering a lot one day per week.
The amount of water you’ll need to provide will depend on factors including rainfall, temperature, humidity, and wind. However, a good estimate is to provide your plants with two inches of water per week.
No matter what method you use to water, avoid splashing water on the plant’s leaves. Instead, water at the base of the plant.
If you’re growing just a few plants, a watering can will work just fine. But if you’re growing a big row of tomato plants, you may want to utilize drip tape.
Even if you’ve amended your soil prior to planting, you should still apply fertilizer as your plants grow. Indeterminate Berkeley Tie Dye plants are heavy feeders that will benefit from regular fertilization.
Once your plants begin to produce flowers, choose a product that is higher in potassium and phosphorus and lower in nitrogen. This will encourage and support fruit production rather than vegetative growth.
Some fertilizers that work well for tomatoes include Espoma Organics Tomato-Tone and Neptune’s Harvest Tomato & Veg Fertilizer.
I like to apply these fertilizers one to two times a month during the growing season.
Managing Pests and Diseases
While Berkeley Tie Dye tomato plants produce delicious fruits, they don’t have stellar disease resistance. It’s impossible to prevent some diseases, but rotating crops and pruning to increase airflow may help stave up some diseases.
That said, your plants may become infected with common tomato diseases such as fusarium wilt, late blight, early blight, or anthracnose. If this happens, there is little you can do.
However, you can keep an eye out for pests and aim to stop them in their tracks.
Sap-sucking pests like aphids and thrips often flock to tomato plants and drink the plant’s juices. Beneficial insects like lady beetles and lacewings can help manage these pests, and you can also spray them with neem oil or insecticidal soap.
You should also look out for caterpillars like tomato hornworms and armyworms. Handpicking these pests is often a sufficient control method, but you can also spray your plants with Bt. If you have problems with tomato pests, read our article.
Harvesting and Storing
If you’ve cared for your plants well, you should begin to pick your first ripe tomatoes about 70–85 days after you transplant them outdoors.
While Berkeley Tie Dye tomatoes eventually develop vivid colorings, the tomatoes will start out green. They will grow until they reach their full size and then begin to change colors.
Tomatoes will develop and ripen from the bottom of the plant to the top. Therefore, you should keep an eye on the lower part of the plant when you’re looking for your first ripe tomatoes.
You can harvest the tomatoes as soon as they sport a bit of red or pink. Picking the tomatoes when they’re partially ripe can help prevent cracking and fruit loss. If you opt for this method, simply store the tomatoes somewhere cool (50-70ºF) to allow them to finish ripening.
Another option is to wait until the tomatoes are fully ripe before you harvest. However, be forewarned that ripe tomatoes will only store for a handful of days once picked.
You should harvest tomatoes at least twice a week in order to prevent fruits from becoming overripe. However, you are welcome to harvest more frequently as well.
How to Eat Berkeley Tie Dye Tomatoes
The tanginess and spice of these tomatoes mean they hold up well in a variety of dishes.
Of course, you can cut them into simple slices and slap them on sandwiches. There’s no going wrong with that method.
And you can chop them up for salsas, tomato salads, and bruschetta. I also find that the nuanced flavor of the Berkeley Tie Dye tomatoes means they work well in tomato sauces and curries.
Follow our guide if you want to learn more about other types of heirloom tomato varieties.