Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Let's Talk Tomatoes!

Illustration by Deviant Art

Everyone loves a good tomato.
With so many varieties to choose from
what do I need to know to choose wisely?

Tomato plants have one of two growth habits: Determinate and Indeterminate. Determinate varieties grow to a certain height (usually 2 to 3 feet), set fruit, and then concentrate on ripening that fruit. This type is perfect for container gardening.

Indeterminate varieties keep growing taller, setting and ripening fruit until they’re killed by frost. They require more support from wire cages and stakes as well as vine pruning to keep plant size manageable and the tomatoes off the ground. It’s best to tie up plants as they grow.

You will also want to know days required to produce ripened fruit. Some tomatoes take much longer to ripen. Be sure to check the label before you purchase. It will show days to maturity. It will also tell if the vine is determinate or indeterminate.

Another important factor in choosing the perfect tomato
is what you plan to do with them once they're ripe.

Do you want tasty tomatoes for delicious summer salads? 
How about delicious pasta sauce or stewed tomatoes to preserve for those cold winter months? 
And what could be more delicious than tomatoes to eat fresh from the vine.

And just maybe you'd like to grow a little of each!

Here are my Five Faves:


Image: This Grandmother's Garden
In my opinion... the PERFECT cherry tomato. This golden yellow to orange tomato will have always have a place in my garden. It produces a ton and its taste is unmatched. I love roasting them in the oven until they pop to use in my favorite summer recipes. The perfect straight from the garden snack... definitely my grand kiddos fave. 55 days to maturity, one to two weeks earlier than other cherry tomatoes. Indeterminate... requires staking.


Image: This Grandmother's Garden
This tomato is the first on the block for vine-ripened red, luscious tomatoes. The flavor is described as particularly good for an early tomato and improves even more as the season warms up. It's always good to include an early variety to jump-start your taste buds! I've been planting this variety for many years, and yes, it's always the first tomato of the season... ripe and ready on... you guessed it... the Fourth of July. 44 days to maturity. Indeterminate... requires staking.  


This heirloom tomato is a large golden-orange beefsteak with fruit that grows up to 1-1/2 lbs. with a mildly sweet somewhat fruity taste, includes a hint of citrus with low acidity, Slice them open to see the colors of a beautiful Hawaiian sunset. A colorful addition to salads and sandwiches.  93 days to  maturity... but so worth the wait. Indeterminate... requires staking.


Illustration Wikipedia
This is the best roma tomato you will ever taste. Meaty, very few seeds. Will continue to grow well into autumn. Choose San Marzano if you like to can whole tomatoes, whip up homemade tomato sauce, or freeze slow-roasted tomatoes. Pick the tomatoes green at first sign of frost and they will continue to ripen in the kitchen. They can also be frozen for winter use. Just wash and dry them, and place in zip lock bags. Take them out of the freezer a few minutes before cutting, They also taste great chopped into salads and sliced onto sandwiches. 84 days to maturity. Indeterminate... requires staking. 


This is the local favorite of any old timer. Its medium large fruit is simply great for canning. It has an old fashioned tomato flavor with high acidity and high yields.  And besides that... it's the one tomato that my Dad would consistently recommend and plant. He grew tomatoes for Del Monte as a young man. The harvest was piled in wooden crates and loaded into his Model T black truck... piled so high it was always somewhat of a miracle he made it to the cannery. 70-75 days to maturity. Determinate vine. 

Keep in mind that all tomatoes are heat-loving plants.
They must have at least 8 hours of sunlight a day to produce fruit and thrive. 

Water tomatoes deeply and infrequently, applying 1-2 inches per week. Irrigate so that moisture goes deep into the soil. Too much water or not enough can cause blossom-end rot, a dark leathery spot on the bottom of the fruit. Avoid cracks in the skin by keeping soil moisture uniform especially as tomatoes begin to ripen.

All content created by Carolyn Bush | Copyright © 2010 - 2016 All Rights Reserved 
This Grandmother's Garden | Highland, Utah, USA

1 comment:

  1. Well now you tell me! I just planted my tomatoes today. This year I have Celebrity, Sweet Cluster, Mountain Pride, and Tomato Carnival. Celebrity is a repeat that I often grow. One year I grew one that I really liked called Country Taste, but I haven' been able to find it since. Most tomatoes advertise how sweet they are, but I like a more tangy, old school tomato taste, and that's hard to find.


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