Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Two Types of Tasty Tomatoes

The tomato is the most popular plant in gardens around the world. Originally a tropical fruit, they can now be grown by nearly everyone, just about anywhere. Store-bought tomatoes can only dream of having the fresh, sweet taste of a ripe tomato from your own garden. There are two major types of tomato plants determinate and indeterminate. Which one is better for you depends on your growing conditions and what kinds of tomatoes you want from your garden.

Determinate tomato plants are sometimes called "bush" tomatoes. The typically grow to approximately four feet in height and don't necessarily require caging or staking, though it can help. The plants stop growing with the fruit sets on the top or terminal bud and the tomatoes will ripen at approximately the same time, usually within a two week period, then they will die off.

Since all the fruits ripen around the same time, determinate tomatoes are popular for those making and canning tomato sauce, salsa and other tomato-based foods. It's much easier to cook up all your tomatoes at once rather than spread the process out over the entire season.

Determinate tomato plants should not be pruned as it severely reduces the crop. Some popular varieties are Roma, Rutgers and Marglobe. Because of their relatively compact size they are recommended for containers, and do best in containers at least five or six gallons in size. Many people use five gallon plastic buckets, which are cheap and readily available.

Indeterminate tomato plants are also called "vining" tomatoes. They will keep growing and making tomatoes until they die off from frost or other external reasons. They can reach heights of over ten feet and need cages, stakes or other forms of support. Unlike determinate tomatoes, the plants will bloom, create fruit and ripen fruit all at the same time.
Pruning and removal of suckers is usually recommended thought not mandatory. Experiment and see which works for you. One method might work better or worse depending on growing conditions. Popular varieties of indeterminate tomatoes include Big Boy, Beef Master, Early Girl and most heirloom varieties.

Because of their size and need for sturdy support, indeterminate type tomatoes are best in a regular garden. Remember that they will grow quite high and block the sun. Many people plant them along a fence and tie the plants to the fence to support them.

Now that you know the difference between determinate and indeterminate tomatoes you can scour your gardening catalogs or your local nursery and find varieties that will work best for your garden and your taste buds!

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