Choose the right tomato for your garden


Tomato varieties that produce small or medium sized fruits are more likely than large beefsteak types to succeed in the south.

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Published: Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 12:04 PM.

Tomato planting season is upon us, leaving gardeners with some pretty big decisions to make. The tomato variety you select now will have a huge impact on your future success, but hundreds of different varieties are available. Will you go with hybrids or heirlooms? Determinate or indeterminate? Large or small fruits? Sorting through this confusing array will help you choose the right varieties for your garden.

Fruit Size     

One way tomato varieties are classified is by the size of tomato they produce. The smallest are the grape and cherry tomatoes, which bear small fruits in long clusters. As a group, these types are by far the most reliable and productive for our region.  No garden should be without a few cherry tomato plants. Gardener’s favorites include ‘Sweet Million’, ‘Super Sweet 100’ and ‘Juliet’, though to be honest I have never seen a cherry tomato that did not thrive.

The tomatoes most gardeners are interested in growing are the large, round fruited types. The problem we face with tomatoes in our climate is the larger the fruit, the more difficult it is to grow. If your dream is to grow tomatoes large enough for a single slice to cover a piece of bread, you may be gardening in the wrong area.

This does not mean we cannot grow decent size tomatoes. Varieties that produce medium size fruits are your best bet. These include old favorites like “Celebrity” and “Better Boy.” If you want to try the larger types, look for “Big Beef,” “Big Boy” or “Beefmaster” — just expect yields to drop during the heat of summer.

Determinate and Indeterminate

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