Tomatoes. The holy grail of gardening. When most people make the decision to start their home garden tomatoes are always at the top of the list of vegetables they they want to plant. (yes I know they are technically a fruit 😛 )
When I first started out I was overwhelmed by the amount of options when it comes to tomatoes. Look through any seeds catalog or online seed company and there will be pages and pages of different types of tomatoes seeds to choose from. I had no idea there were so many different types of tomatoes!
What most people do not know is that there is a way to narrow down your for the search the perfect tomato to plant. Tomatoes are divided into two categories: Determinate and Indeterminate. Both types of tomatoes will give you beautiful delicious fruit and there is not much difference in how you would care for them. The difference between determinate and indeterminate comes in how they grow and how they produce fruit.
Simply put a determinate tomato plant bares all of their fruit at one time and an indeterminate bares fruits over the course of the entire season. In order for you to decide which type of tomato plant is best for you, we will need to dig into their differences a bit further.
In the case of determinate tomatoes you will have a shorter, bush-like tomato plant that does does not require much pruning. Determinate tomato plants normally do not grow more than 3-4 ft tall. Because of this, they will not require much staking either. Since you will get most of your fruit at the same time, determinate tomatoes are best for people who are hoping for large crop harvests at a certain time of the season. Most large scale tomato farms use determinate plants in order to schedule crop harvest in the small 2-3 week window when all of the fruit on the plants are ripe. Once most of the fruit on each plant is ripe, new flowers will very seldom produce fruit.
Indeterminate on the other hand are very different. These types of tomato plants produce fruit throughout the season. This means that rather than getting all of your tomatoes in a 2-3 week period, each tomato works individually to ripen on its own. Some indeterminate tomato plants can grow more than 8 ft tall! Since this type of tomato plant grows tall vines rather than short bushes like determinate; strong steaks, tall tomato cages and / or a trellis for the vines to climb will be essential. Indeterminate tomato plants will also require a bit more pruning than the determinate variety. It will be important to prune off dead or diseased leaves and suckers that way the plant can focus on producing more fruit rather than foliage. This type of tomato plant is ideal for home gardeners who want to enjoy tomatoes all season long because you could be harvesting several tomatoes each week rather than having the whole mother-load all at once.
Tomatoes are the go-to plant to grow for most home gardeners. I do not think I have ever met anyone who doesn’t like them, even if it is just to make pasta sauce! Understanding the difference between determinate and indeterminate tomato plants is the first step in choosing the perfect variety for your home garden!
Until next time, good luck in the garden this season!