Tomatoes for Beginners
Being a southern boy, my love for tomatoes comes from generations of tradition. Growing these delicious beauties takes a bit of know-how but the extra effort will be well rewarded when it comes time to harvest your crop.
Picking Your Poison
There are two classifications for tomatoes – determinate and indeterminate. The class you choose can and will affect your overall yield, but the decision is one that you should base on the amount of time and effort you want to dedicate to your tomato plants.
- Determinate Tomatoes
A determinate tomato plant produces its entire crop at once. This can be both a blessing and a curse, depending on how prepared you are to deal with a sudden influx of ripe fruit. Still, determinate tomato plants can be good for first timers who don’t want to deal with a long growing season.
- Indeterminate Tomatoes
Indeterminate tomato plants produce throughout the growing season, often right up to the first frost of fall. The yield is generally considerably higher, so preparation is necessary beforehand. In other words, you are going to have to have a plan for all the tomatoes.
Hybrids or Heirlooms
The field of tomato plants is separated into two basic types. These are two entirely different types of plant that are each valuable in their own right. Both hybrid and heirloom tomato varieties are popular and for all sorts of reasons.
Hybrid tomato plants are those that have been modified to produce consistent fruit that meets varying sets of criteria. Tomato plants have been hybridized for size, color, flavor, consistency and yield as well as being tailor-made to grow in a wide array of climates and situations.Want to grow tomatoes in a hanging planter on your front porch in Texas? There’s a hybrid for you.
Heirloom tomato plants are rich in history. Unlike hybrids, heirloom are not genetically modified in a lab and as a result the fruit can often be considered ‘ugly’, with odd shapes making them appear deformed. Rest assured that while these tomatoes may look odd to you, the flavor will more than make up for it.
Which do you choose?
When it comes down to an issue of sustainability the heirloom tomato is the only way to go. The seeds in hybrid tomatoes are largely sterile, making the seed-saving process a fruitless effort (pardon the pun). Even the seeds that have not been sterilized will rarely produce true from seed.
Heirloom tomato seeds on the other hand, are easily collected, stored and planted season after season with great results.