Tomato Varieties

Introduction to Tomato Varieties:

Whenever a group of avid gardeners come together to talk shop, one way or another you will always see the conversation turn to tomatoes. Tomatoes are one of the most popular plants you will find growing in most vegetable gardens. One of the reasons is because of all the different varieties that are out there. Anyone looking to grow tomatoes is sure to be able to find a variety they will love. Believe it or not though, there is a lot of information that goes along with selecting tomatoes that you should be aware of.

Among the many tomato varieties to choose from, what you have to think about is do you want an indeterminate, semi-determinate, or determinate variety? Do you want your tomatoes to be ready for harvest early in the season, in the middle of the season, or do you need a late ripening tomato to grow? Are you looking for an open pollinated variety, a hybrid, or an heirloom? If all of that sounds like Greek to you, don't worry, we will explain it all for you!

Determinate vs Indeterminate Tomato Varieties:

Let us explore the first variable in choosing tomato varieties to grow in your garden, determinate versus indeterminate varieties. You are most likely already familiar with these two types, even if you never knew the definition of each. A determinate variety is commonly referred to as a bush tomato. The plant itself will continue to grow until the fruit sets on the top bud of the plant. These types of varieties will generally have all of their tomatoes ripen around the same 2 week period, and then the plant will die. This type requires no pruning and is the best suited for container growing.

Indeterminate tomato plants are the kind the grow vines of fruit. They have no "determined" harvest period. These plants will reach heights typically around 6 feet tall, but they can go as high as 10 feet. Indeterminate varieties will continue to grow and produce fruit at varying stages throughout the plant for the entire growing season, until the plant is killed by a frost. That means you will have tomatoes at all stages of ripening across the entire plant at any given point in its growth cycle. If you grow these varieties, you will need to stake them well, so make sure you are prepared.

Fast-Ripening or Late Tomato Varieties:

Another factor that might help determine the type of tomato you decide to grow will be when the plant will be ready for harvest. You might assume that all tomato plants ripen at the same pace, but that just isn't the case. Different varieties will start producing fruit at different points in their life cycle, so you should give some thought as to when you would like to begin harvesting tomatoes.

The tomato varieties that are marked as fast ripening will start producing fruit usually within 4 months of the date you actually sowed the seeds. Other varieties will be main season types. These will start producing their crop starting around 4 and a half to about 5 months. The late variety tomatoes won't start producing their fruit until at least 5 months from sowing. While the difference of a couple weeks may not seem important to you, it will absolutely affect the amount of tomatoes you ultimately harvest, so this is not something you should ignore.

Open Pollinated, Hybrid, & Heirloom Tomato Varieties:

As you are browsing through various tomato varieties, you will eventually come across these three attributes and you will probably wonder what they mean. Open pollinated generally means that it is an older variety that is grown from true seeds, however there are exceptions to this rule. The simpler answer would be if you grew tomatoes and kept the seeds from the previous year and resow them, you will get the exact tomatoes that the seeds originated from.

Hybrid tomatoes are varieties that have been painstakingly pollinated from one open pollinated plant to another. The first generation of seed from these varieties produce plants that are usually very uniform, which is what growers look for. Unfortunately subsequent seeding and resowing will produce plants with great variations, so the original pollination must be repeated every year. Hybrid tomatoes tend to be more vigorous than other varieties and they are often very disease resistant.

Heirloom tomato varieties are those that for one reason or another have been maintained year after year in virtually the same form as they started. The reasons for creating heirlooms range from oversized fruit to special tastes and coloring. While heirlooms typically have outstanding qualities, they have not been worked over by breeder so their resistance to disease is usually very low.

Various Tomato Varieties:

Beefsteak tomatoes are some of the largest tomatoes you will find and these are the ones you would grow for slices on sandwiches. The "steak" reference in their name comes from the marbled appearance the tomato has when sliced open.

Plum tomatoes will generally have a thick outer flesh and lower pulp in the center. This quality makes plum tomatoes ideal for canning, however they will also slice well too. The reduced pulp means these varieties will typically cook down faster than others.

Salad tomatoes will have a lot of pulp in the center and less flesh. This means that when you slice them open the pulp will usually fall out. Because of their smaller size however they are ideally suited for halving or quartering to add to a salad.

Cherry tomatoes are the smallest tomatoes you will find. These are usually too small for slicing and typically they are eaten whole or at most sliced in half. They range in size from pea shaped all the way up to bordering into the salad tomato category. Often cherry tomato plants are extremely prolific and will give you a bountiful harvest.

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Tomato Varieties
Tomato Varieties
Tomato Varieties
Tomato Varieties
Tomato Varieties