Choosing a tomato can be a very overwhelming task. There are so many to choose from and if you have limited room you aren’t able to just “try” a few varieties. Maybe you’ve tried different ones over the years but maybe you’re to new vegetable gardening. Here are a few things to know and think about when choosing a variety, or two, or three…
1. Do you want an heirloom or hybrid?
Heirlooms are true to seed and have been passed down from previous generations which means you can save the seed from this year’s crop for next year. Heirloom tomatoes are known for their flavor but can lack vigor, abundance and insect/disease resistance. Hybrids have been bred to produce abundantly, resist diseases and nematodes but can’t usually beat heirlooms in flavor. Hybrids usually have 1-4 letters at the end of their name: V-Verticillium wilt, F-Fusarium wilt, N-nematode, T-tomato blight. If these letters are there, that means that variety is resistant.
2. Determinate or indeterminate?
Determinate is a classification regarding when the fruit is ripe. Determinate tomatoes produce virtually all at once. This is a benefit if you can or preserve tomatoes. Indeterminate means the fruit will produce consistently all season long. Tomato varieties are only determinate or indeterminate.
3. How will you use them?
How you plan on using the tomatoes will dictate whether you need a slicing, cherry, roma or other variety. If you do a lot of your own tomato sauce then roma type are best since they are lower in water content. Slicing tomatoes are obviously for, slicing. Cherry or grape varieties are good for salads. All types can be used in cooking, they just may take longer to cook the extra water out of them.
TOP 5 SLICING: Ace, Better Boy, Super Fantastic, Better Beef and Early Girl
BEST ROMA: San Marzano
4. Grafted tomatoes
Very new but worth a mention. Grafted tomatoes are available in different varieties (including heirlooms). They are grafted to increase vigor, disease resistance, to be more abundant and produce longer than non-grafted varieties. A word of caution though, these plants are not good for containers and need LOTS of space in the garden. I recommend an area of 8’x8′, at least. Grafted plants grow so fast that they outgrow tomato hornworms! But the size and cost are worth it. Last year I reaped 9 times more from one grafted tomato than 3 non-grafted combined!
So that’s what I recommend considering when choosing a tomato plant. Don’t let my recommendations limit you. There are so many different colors of tomatoes (red, pink, white, yellow, orange, purple and green) that I suggest you try one “different” one!
Happy Tomato Shopping!
You Can Grow That is a group of Garden Writers that Adria is a member of. This group is passionate about promoting gardening for the greater good.