Something to consider is which variety of tomatoes to Grow. The tomato may well be the most beloved plant among American gardeners. So, there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of varieties to choose from, and simply ordering from a catalog will not necessarily ensure you’ve chosen the best tomato for your purposes.
Grow tomatoes that your family uses tomatoes.
Growing a tomato, which is intended for the way your family uses tomatoes, most of the time would be a good choice. Does your family use tomatoes as:
- A sauce for cooking?
- A thick slice on top of their favorite sandwich?
- Topping for a salad?
- A dry food snack (e.g., sun-dried tomato)?
- As canned tomatoes for meals over the winter?
Choose a determinate or indeterminate tomato.
Lastly, should you choose a determinate or indeterminate tomato? This choice is often overlooked by home gardeners. However, it is an important choice, as it will drive your behaviors regarding food preparation and your window of opportunity to use your fresh tomatoes.
Determinants, basically, produce one crop that matures within a couple of weeks, and they are done for the year; so, if you’re planning to preserve them (e.g., can then store tomato paste and/or tomato sauces), and you want volume in a short period to do your canning and be done with it. A determinate variety may be best for you. This applies even if you do a bit of succession planting, where you may plant more than one set of plants to mature at different times (say, two or three weeks apart) if you have a long enough growing season to use this approach.
Indeterminates will still provide some density of harvest based on your planting strategy but will, with care, throughout more of the garden season. These tomato varieties work well if you’re looking for a tomato from which to make sandwiches throughout the summer, want a few tomatoes from time to time to add to the top of a salad, or perhaps to dry some tomatoes in small batches to use as a snack or in cooking later.
For additional advice, a couple of good sources that can help you with your choice are your local agriculture extension office and/or master gardening group.
Choosing the Right Tomato Varieties for Your Home Garden
Tomatoes are an invaluable crop for home gardeners. But how can you select suitable varieties to meet your specific gardening needs?
No matter your taste in tomatoes, there’s always plenty to learn when it comes to growing and selecting them for disease resistance. From traditional varieties grown by your granddaddy’s gardener or those designed for modern cultivation techniques; to new varieties specifically bred for these purposes.
With more than 10,000 tomato varieties cultivated in America, it’s essential that gardeners explore all their options when selecting the ideal ones for their garden. There are multiple factors to take into account such as size, shape and color before ripening patterns (determinate or indeterminate). Home gardeners growing tomatoes in containers or planters may wish to select determinate varieties as these will reach an easier harvest height; larger gardens with multiple harvest cycles or wanting continuous production may prefer an indeterminate variety that keeps producing and ripening until frost or another force stops producing or something else kills it off.
An essential aspect of tomato variety selection is choosing between open-pollinated or hybrid plants. Open-pollinated varieties pollinate themselves and produce offspring identical in appearance, taste and other qualities to their parent plants; hybrid tomatoes are crosses between two distinct kinds designed by breeders for particular characteristics.
Climate is also a crucial consideration when selecting tomato varieties, since tomatoes require warm temperatures and ample sunlight for successful growth and fruiting. If you live in a cool or arid region, early maturing varieties such as the Early Girl hybrid (a determinate round slicer that takes 50 days to fruit) and Celebrity Tomato are good candidates to grow for fruiting success.
If your summers are particularly hot, modern tomatoes with superior heat tolerance should be explored as they can produce fruits at higher temperatures than traditional varieties. Two such examples are the Florida 91 hybrid (indeterminate, round slicer 72 days) and Green Zebra heirloom varieties (indeterminate 78 days).
On top of this comes disease resistance; no single tomato can withstand all diseases; therefore it’s essential that you choose disease-resistant cultivars suited to your garden conditions and climate. Check the plant tag for resistance letters such as V (Verticillium wilt), F (Fusarium wilt), N (root knot nematodes), or T (Tomato spotted wilt virus). With careful selection, planting and cultural practices in place you can reap delicious homegrown tomatoes without resorting to chemical sprays!
No matter if you prefer traditional varieties inherited from Granddaddy or experiment with disease-resistant hybrids, growing tomatoes requires creating the optimal conditions in terms of both climate and sun exposure for maximum production. First and foremost is considering how much direct sunlight (at least six hours daily) your tomato plants will receive, to maximize performance.
Temperature can also play an integral part in selecting tomatoes for cooler regions. If gardening in an area with cool summers, look for varieties such as the Siberian tomato which adapts quickly and matures within 50 days from planting. Northern Lights tomatoes offer another good option with bicolor fruits containing shades of red and yellow fruit for colder regions.
Determine whether you prefer determinate or indeterminate varieties when it comes to cultivating tomatoes. Indeterminate varieties can produce fruit until frost or another event causes their death, necessitating more intensive support with stakes or cages for upright support. On the other hand, determinate tomatoes have more compact growth that tends to mature within a predetermined timeframe, making them suitable for home cultivation in containers, pots or planters.
If you want to avoid spraying pesticides or fungicides on the soil-borne diseases in your garden, look for varieties resistant to common tomato diseases instead of spraying pesticides and fungicides – this will save time and effort when searching seed packets or catalogs for varieties marked “resistant to V (verticillium), F (fusarium), N (nematodes), ASC (ascorbic acid wilt) and TMV (tobacco mosaic virus).
Once you’ve decided which types of tomatoes you’d like to explore, consider their color, size and shape as this will have a major influence on their flavor. Oaxacan Pink and Chocolate Stripes are two heirloom varieties with attractive, medium-sized fruit; Paul Robeson and Cherokee Purple are beefsteak varieties known for large, meaty fruits. Tiger Blush tomato boasts its own unique oblong shape which offers delectable sweetness with crunchiness that reminds one of crunchy salad greens!
Preferred Taste Profiles
From among the vast array of tomato varieties available today, you can select heirloom varieties that have exceptional richness, succulent fruit, vibrant colors and exotic shapes. There are also popular hybrid varieties designed for high productivity and disease resistance as well as determinate and indeterminate cultivars to meet various growing conditions and climate zones. Once your selection is narrowed down further, take time to consider your specific uses and tastes when narrowing your choices further.
For example, if your purpose for growing tomatoes is salads and sandwiches, large beefsteak-style tomatoes that are wider than long may be best, like Brandywine. These varieties provide full, rich tomato flavors while being great for slicing. Heirloom varieties such as Heinz Super Roma or San Marzano provide reduced juice and seeds which makes them suitable for sauce production.
For a sweeter citrus-like flavor in your tomatoes, choose varieties with higher sugar and lower acid levels like Early Girl or Celebrity hybrid determinate round slicers that offer balanced sugar/acid levels; both varieties are popular among gardeners in cold climates.
There are also low-sugar profiles of heirloom and hybrid tomatoes suitable for those who enjoy tangier, almost sour flavors such as Stupice, San Marzano and Black Krim tomatoes; other varieties, like Mortgage Lifter Big Boy and Mr. Stripey tomatoes are less tangy but more sweet, providing balanced flavors with each bite.
To reduce the workload in your gardening routine, select determinate or bush-type tomatoes such as Early Girl and Celebrity that ripen in an extended timeframe; these varieties are especially ideal for gardeners in regions with shorter growing seasons.
If you live in an extremely hot climate, selecting modern varieties designed to withstand higher heat tolerance. These will typically feature the VFN (varieties that are resistant to diseases and insects) symbol, so to increase chances of a successful season it is wise to give tomato plants an early boost with liquid fertilizers at transplanting time.
Selecting the ideal tomato varieties can be challenging. Considerations include their climate requirements, when they ripen and their shape/color/shape requirements as well as disease resistance/pest tolerance issues. Many tomato breeders produce cultivars designed with disease resistance features to decrease your need for chemicals – something especially crucial if your garden has had issues with serious tomato diseases like blight or leaf spot in its past. Watch out for letter V, F and N that indicate disease resistance on seed catalogs or plant tags!
Tomatoes come in two distinct varieties, open-pollinated and hybrid. Open-pollinated varieties pollinate themselves to produce offspring similar in terms of looks and taste, while hybrid varieties are crossbreds of multiple tomatoes bred by plant breeders to achieve specific attributes. Open-pollinated varieties tend to be better suited for home cultivation as their pollination process produces results more consistently while hybrid varieties may not produce as consistently or be susceptible to disease more easily.
Heirloom varieties found at your local nursery or farmstand will offer an abundance of colors, shapes, sizes, and flavors to choose from. Heirloom varieties have been grown by generations of gardeners for generations now, often having natural mutations that make them well suited to specific climates or growing regions. Heirloom varieties add a bit of heritage or old-fashioned flavor to your garden!
Even though many heirlooms are open-pollinated varieties, they can still become susceptible to disease. To ensure reliable fruit production and optimum disease resistance, consider planting varieties like Celebrity or Heatmaster.
Roma tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) are classic plum tomatoes that have become immensely popular for canning and saucing. Their oval shape, dense flesh and few seeds make them easy to work with when used for these methods of preparation, plus this variety has proven resistant to several common plant diseases.
Early Girl (Solanum lycopersicum) is an easy-to-grow, tennis ball-sized slicing tomato with excellent resistance against common plant diseases and pests, and a top choice for early harvest. Other early harvest options include Lemon Boy and Fire Fly (Solanum lycopersicum ‘FIRE FLIGHT’), petite orange cherry tomatoes that offer low acid levels with loads of sweetness.