Tomatoes are a staple in many home gardens, and with so many different varieties to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start.
Choosing the right variety of tomatoes for your garden will help reduce waste and get the most return for the time and energy you put into growing your own food for your family.
Indeterminate vs determinate tomatoes
Indeterminate and determinate tomatoes are two types of tomato plants that differ in their growth habits and fruiting patterns.
Indeterminate tomatoes, also known as vining tomatoes, continue to grow and produce fruit throughout the growing season until they are killed by frost. These plants can grow very tall, often reaching heights of 6-10 feet or more, and require support such as stakes or cages to prevent them from falling over.
Indeterminate tomatoes will produce fruit continuously, so they are a good choice for gardeners who want a steady supply of tomatoes throughout the season.
Determinate tomatoes, also known as bush tomatoes, grow to a certain height (usually around 3-4 feet) and then stop growing. They produce most of their fruit over a period of a few weeks to a month and then the plant dies back.
Determinate tomatoes do not require staking or pruning and are often grown in containers or small gardens where space is limited. Because they produce most of their fruit at once, determinate tomatoes are a good choice for gardeners who want to harvest a large crop of tomatoes for canning or preserving.
The different types of tomatoes
Tomatoes are a diverse group of fruits that come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors. Some of the most common types of tomatoes include:
Heirloom tomatoes: These are old-fashioned tomato varieties that have been passed down through generations of gardeners. They often have unique shapes, colors, and flavors, and are prized for their taste and beauty.
Cherry tomatoes: These small, round tomatoes are often eaten raw as a snack or in salads. They come in a range of colors, including red, yellow, and orange.
Beefsteak tomatoes: These are large, juicy tomatoes that are often used for slicing and eating fresh. They have a meaty texture and are perfect for sandwiches, burgers, and salads.
Roma or paste tomatoes: These are oblong-shaped tomatoes that are ideal for making sauces, salsas, and paste. They have a thick flesh and few seeds.
Grape tomatoes: These are similar to cherry tomatoes, but are oblong-shaped and a bit sweeter. They are often used in salads and as a snack.
Green tomatoes: These are unripe tomatoes that are usually green in color. They can be fried or pickled, and are often used in Southern cuisine.
Yellow tomatoes: These tomatoes come in various shapes and sizes, and have a milder flavor than red tomatoes. They are often used in salads and salsas.
Plum tomatoes: These are small, oval-shaped tomatoes that are often used in cooking, particularly in Italian cuisine. They have a high flesh-to-seed ratio, making them perfect for making sauces and paste.
Campari tomatoes: These are a type of cocktail tomato that are slightly larger than cherry tomatoes. They have a deep red color and a sweet, juicy flavor.
In addition to these common types, there are many other varieties of tomatoes that offer different flavors, colors, and textures. Gardeners and cooks can choose from a wide range of tomato cultivars to suit their tastes and needs.
The best tomato verities to grow in your garden
Early Girl: This is an indeterminate tomato that produces fruit early in the season, making it perfect for gardeners who want to get a head start on their harvest. Early Girl tomatoes are medium-sized and have a sweet, tangy flavor. They are great for slicing and using in salads or sandwiches.
Cherokee Purple: This is an heirloom tomato that has a unique, dark purple color and a rich, meaty flavor. Cherokee Purple tomatoes are perfect for slicing and using in sandwiches, or for roasting and using in sauces or salsas.
San Marzano: This is a type of plum tomato that is famous for its use in Italian cuisine. San Marzano tomatoes have a thick, meaty flesh and a sweet, rich flavor. They are perfect for making sauces and paste.
Sun Gold: This is a cherry tomato that has a bright orange color and a sweet, tangy flavor. Sun Gold tomatoes are perfect for snacking on, or for using in salads or pasta dishes.
Brandywine: This is an heirloom tomato that has a large, beefsteak shape and a sweet, juicy flavor. Brandywine tomatoes are perfect for slicing and using in sandwiches or salads.
Black Krim: This is an heirloom tomato that has a dark, almost black color and a rich, smoky flavor. Black Krim tomatoes are perfect for slicing and using in sandwiches or for roasting and using in sauces or salsas.
Green Zebra: This is a small, green tomato that has a tart, tangy flavor. Green Zebra tomatoes are perfect for using in salads or for making pickles or relishes.
Yellow Pear: This is a small, yellow tomato that has a sweet, mild flavor. Yellow Pear tomatoes are perfect for snacking on or for using in salads.
Celebrity: This is a determinate tomato that produces medium-sized fruit that is perfect for slicing and using in sandwiches or salads. Celebrity tomatoes have a sweet, mild flavor and are great for gardeners who want a high yield of tomatoes in a small space.
Roma: This is a type of paste tomato that has a thick, meaty flesh and a low water content. Roma tomatoes are perfect for making sauces, paste, or ketchup.
When growing tomatoes choose varieties you know your family will use then add in a fun variety or two to try so you can experiment and see what your family likes.