Determining What is the Right Tomato for Your Garden

Choosing what type of tomato to grow in your yard may seem as easy as checking them out at your local greenhouse. Knowing a bit more about the right type of tomato to grow in your garden space will help you optimize the tasty rewards.

Determinate vs Indeterminate Tomatoes

There are two main growing types of tomatoes, determinate or indeterminate. Use this as a quick reference guide to choosing the best tomato type and variety for your needs and ultimate growing success. Knowing your growing season, what you want to do with your home-grown tomatoes and where you’d like to grow them will help you decide which type works best for you.

Determinate Tomatoes

Determinates are usually a bush tomato that grows to a pre-determined or specific size. They set flower early at the ends of the growing stems and tend to ripen early and all at once so are ideal for canning, saucing, and freezing. Due to their compact growth and abundant fruit production, determinate tomatoes are great in containers, small space gardens and in mixed vegetable or flower gardens. It’s important to know that once they have produced their fruit, their job is done for the season. Many determinate varieties do not need staking or caging, do not require pinching back of suckers and are generally lower maintenance.

Examples include: Bush Beefsteak, Bush Early Girl, Celebrity, Early Wonder, Golden Girl, Health Kick, Manitoba, Napoli, Patio Hybrid, Roma, Tiny Tim, Tumbler

Indeterminate Tomatoes

Indeterminates, or vining tomatoes, will continue to grow all season long, right up to frost. They likely will require growing support such as, stakes, cages, or rope/wire (in production settings). Their longer production season provides fruit longer resulting in great patio pickers and garden snacks. Salad makers and anyone appreciating fresh tomatoes throughout the growing season will appreciate this type of tomato. Indeterminates generally grow best in large containers, troughs and raised beds where they can be provided ample space to grow. Flowers continue to form along stems and shoots all season long. Pinching of suckers is required to help maintain overall growth and allow plants energy to go into more growth and fruit production. Pruning and staking will keep indeterminate tomatoes from sprawling and taking over your garden space.

Examples include: Beefsteak, Better Boy, Big Beef, Big Brandy, Black Cherry, Brandywine, Burpee’s Big Boy, Cherry, Early Girl, Juliet, Sun Sugar, Super Sweet 10, Sweet Million

Semi-determinate tomatoes generally grow like a determinate tomato (compact growth) but produce fruit like an indeterminate fruit (all season long).

Tips for Growing Success

All tomatoes, regardless of type appreciate lots of sun. They like to have warm, moist feet so provide consistent watering and mulch (do not allow them to dry out and allow for good drainage). As they are heavy feeders, fertilize with a tomato fertilizer weekly through the growing season (or as per the label directions). Plant basil along side tomatoes as they make great companions in the garden. After reading this article we hope you know what is the difference of determinate vs indeterminate tomatoes.


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