Tomatoes are a must for most vegetable gardeners, and although they are fairly common we come across a lot of questions about this garden staple. We hope to answer some of the most asked questions here, but if you don’t find the information you need please reach out to us!
What type of tomato should I plant?
Cherry, slicing, saladette, grape, canning or paste…the list goes on and on and everyone has their favorites but, when we say type what we refer to are heirlooms or hybrids, determinate or indeterminate. Those terms are important.
First let’s look at hybrid or heirloom.
A hybrid tomato is created from two or more open pollinated parent varieties of tomatoes to create a fruit for specific traits. This may be disease or crack resistance, heat tolerance, color or size. If you are someone who wants to save seeds to replant next year it’s important to know if your tomato is a hybrid. If it is, the seeds that you harvest from it will only carry the traits of one of the tomatoes parents used to create it.
If your plant is an heirloom, this means that it’s a pure open pollinated variety, and will produce that exact fruit from its seeds.
Now let’s consider determinate and indeterminate types.
A determinate plant is also called a bush type. These plants only grow to a certain height (usually 4-6’) and will stop growing once the buds have set at the top of the plant. This type is a good choice if you are growing in containers or in the ground. Although not overly tall, they will still need the support of a trellis or cage.
Indeterminate plants will not stop growing until the first frost, and can reach heights up to 12’. That’s a lot of fruit!! It’s best to place indeterminate plans in an area where they can either run on the ground or near a fence where they can just trail along with support.
How do I plant tomatoes for success?
We’ll get to that but first, take a close look at the main stem of your plant. Notice all those little hairs? They are actually the beginnings of roots that live all along the stem. If you laid that plant down on its side in the soil, it would start to send those roots down into the ground and shoot off new stems all along the length of the plant. Pretty cool! But aside from a fun fact, it’s also a clue when it comes to planting. Tomatoes can be planted at almost any depth, and many gardeners will dig their plants 6” or more (depending on the size) into their planting hole. This allows the plant to send out a large number of roots which not only help to stabilize the plant and give it a good strong start, but also allows more root area to uptake nutrients.