Tomatoes are truly a treasure of the summer garden. The juicy sweet and complex flavors of vine ripened tomatoes can't be beat. When selecting tomato varieties it is important to understand the two main categories of tomatoes in order to choose a variety that suits your needs:
Determinate tomatoes are smaller bushy plants that grow to a specific size and put on all of their fruit within a set time period. These tomatoes can be caged with normal tomato cages and are tidier.
Indeterminate tomatoes are vining types that will continue to grow and put on fruit as long as the growing conditions are favorable for growth. These tomatoes need a larger trellis system to account for their massive growth.
Tomatoes prefer loose soil with medium fertility and a pH of 6.0 to 6.8 for optimal growth. Avoid using too much nitrogen fertilizer, which can cause unruly vegetative growth, less blooms, and delayed ripening.
It is recommended to start your tomato plants indoors in order to get a jump on the season. Start tomato seeds in 6-pack trays by planting them 1/4" deep. Germination should occur within a week at 75 degrees. Tomatoes will benefit from a seedling heat mat. Keep seeding medium moist until germination and then reduce watering to allow soil to dry out in between waterings. Waterlogged soil and insufficient airflow can result in seedling diseases such as damping off. Plant your tomatoes into the garden after all danger of frost has passed. Plant the tomato plants deep to encourage adventitious root development.
Harvest tomatoes that are fully ripe for immediate use. Harvest tomatoes that have turned 50% of their color for storage up to a week. Store tomatoes in a dark location, ideally at temperatures between 50 and 60 degrees. Do not store tomatoes in the refrigerator, which causes mealy texture and flavor loss.
There are literally hundreds of tomato varieties to choose from. Below is our list of varieties that we highly recommend.