Tomatoes are the most popular of all crops. They are very greedy feeders and need ample supplies of compost or decomposed manure. Keep soil moist in dry weather. Determinate types are bushy and do not need staking. Indeterminate types are more vine-like, need staking & generally bear longer. Cool climate varieties are generally smaller fruited and less resistant to cracking.
Tomatoes are actually tropical perennials, and will keep growing as long as there's heat. Start indoors 6 weeks before last frost date and plant out into warm weather or give some protection. Very greedy feeders--need lots of phosphorus for good yields, plus calcium to prevent blossom end rot. Too much nitrogen or water will result in soft, rot-prone fruit. Try to keep soil evenly moist and no water on foliage. Cool climate types are earlier, smaller fruited and less resistant to cracking. Cherry types are forgiving of tough conditions, and do well in pots. The luscious heirlooms are often soft and prone to cracking but the flavor is worth it.
DETERMINATE tomatoes grow to a fixed size and tend to ripen in a short period and then fade away. This works well for canning or sauce. Sometimes called bush tomatoes, you should not prune or remove suckers but staking or caging is still a good idea to support and keep fruit off the ground.
INDETERMINATE Vines that keep growing and producing fruit until frost gets them. Pinch off suckers that develop in the crotch joint of two branches and stake or cage these varieties. Pinch off the tips of the main stems in early summer you will have tomatoes sooner. They can also be grown as a hanging vine.
Ripe fruits can be eaten raw, in salads, soups, stews, stewed, pureed, stuffed, and dried. They can be made into sauces, pastes, juice, or catsup. Unripe fruits are pickled, fried, roasted, dried, or made into marmalade, pies, or relishes. Dried fruits can be marinated or ground into a flour for flavoring. Tomato seed oil is used in cooking.
H/Matures 8-13/Harvest 17+/Yield 100-418/Spacing Cherry 18”, determinate 21” Indeterminate - 24”
Days to Maturity figures are really just for comparing between varieties within a category. Actual days will vary from location to location, depending on garden conditions.
How do I choose? We feel that most gardners will be the happiest with one or two main-season tomatoes that have a taste and texture you really love, perhaps a mid-season and a late indeterminate variety. These are the heirlooms with fabulous flavor. (Flavors depend on soil and water--we also describe mild, tangy, or sweet types.) Then, we always hedge our bets by growing an early or extra-early to eat while we are waiting for our favorites, or if the weather is difficult.
If you want to can or dry tomatoes, you will want a either a determinate or a paste tomato. (Determinates will hold their shape in the jar, paste tomatoes will make smoother sauce and dry faster.) Determinates are also used by some for their main crop. They produce a lot all at once, are fimer, and have flavors more like standard tomatoes. Usually dependable in case of a bad season.
If you love cherry tomatoes, try 2 or 3 colors on a trellis shading a seat or chair in the garden.