Gardening

What types of tomatoes to grow in your garden?

It’s hard to determine the right tomato variety for your garden in the midst of different tomato types and their thousands of varieties. If you are a beginner gardener, you may become crazy facing this puzzle and can’t solve it before knowing the basics.

If you go to the local nursery or gardening store, nursery workers will definitely recommend you some determinate hybrid tomato varieties, as a new gardener.

So you must need to concern about the ABC of tomato varieties and clarify your demand to get the right information to pick the right types of tomatoes for your garden.

Types of Tomatoes

BASICALLY, WE CAN CLASSIFY ALL THE TOMATO VARIETIES IN TWO MAJOR TYPES FOLLOWING THEIR GENETIC LINE AND GROWING HABIT. BASED ON GENETIC LINE TOMATOES CAN BE CLASSIFIED IN HEIRLOOM AND HYBRID VARIETIES. ON THE OTHER HAND, ACCORDING TO GROWING HABIT TOMATOES CAN BE CLASSIFIED IN DETERMINATE AND INDETERMINATE VARIETIES.

THE REST OF THE TOMATO VARIETIES INCLUDING CHERRY, ROMA, BEEFSTEAK AND OTHER KNOWN OR UNKNOWN VARIETIES ARE CLASSIFIED UNDER THESE MAJOR TYPES OF TOMATOES.

THERE HAS ANOTHER WAY TO CHOOSE TOMATO VARIETIES BASED ON THEIR SHAPE AND PERSONAL PREFERENCES.

types of tomatoes, tomato varieties

Here’s the details on the tomato varieties insights from the infographic:

 

1# Classify According to Tomato’s Genetic Line

Heirloom (Open-pollinated):

Heirloom seeds are often called open-pollinated or non-hybrid seeds. They are reproducible whose seeds produce more plants and maintain the same quality as parent plants. Heirloom tomatoes pollinated naturally and they have been around at least fifty years to hundred years.

Pros and Cons:

Pros Cons
Thousands of varieties and flavor Vulnerable to diseases and pests
Reproducible seeds Seeds are not well-rounded comparing hybrid seeds
Seeds are cheaper than hybrid Less production than hybrid

 

Hybrid (Cross-pollinated):

Hybrid seeds are also called regular or cross-pollinated seeds. They are carefully pollinated by two specific varieties through the seed companies. They are unable to produce seeds from parent plants twice.

Pros and Cons:

Pros Cons
Higher production Expensive seeds
Disease resistant Need to buy seeds in every season
Increases return of invest Not making the same production like previous year
Shorter growth habit Limited Varieties

 

2# Classify According to Tomato’s Growing Habit

Determinate (Bush) varieties:

Determinate tomato varieties often called bush varieties. Usually, determinate tomato plants become three to four feet tall and holding flowers at the end of its stalks. They produce and set off earlier in the season and the fruits grow and ripen all at once. Its take around four to six-week period to grow and ripen bush varieties.

Determinate tomato varieties also be classified in several types:

Early-season types:

Best suitable for the northern climate. They perform well in cooler condition and can’t tolerate long hours of sunlight. Typically mature within 45 to 60 days.

 Main-season types:

Produce high yields and mature within 70-80 days. Perform well in warmer condition and plants mature from mid to late season. Often produce large and meaty fruit.

 Paste types:

Best use for preserving tomatoes through canned or making sauces. They become mature within 70-80 days. These tomato varieties contain less seed and a lot of meat.

Dwarf types:

Mostly use for container gardening. Fruits are small in size around 1 or 2-inch and plants become tall at best 2 feet. Maturity time frame 45-72 days, depend on varieties.

Pros and Cons:

Pros Cons
Tend to ripen early Can’t use round the year without preserving
Fruits ripen all at once Preserving bulk production at a time is challenging for home gardener
The short length of the growth period Can’t get fresh tomatoes round the year
Plants are small in size and space saving Need to learn how to preserve tomatoes

 

Indeterminate (Vine) varieties:

Indeterminate tomatoes varieties are also known as vining tomatoes. They continue growing throughout the season and producing fruits until killed off by frost. These tomato varieties provide a slow and steady supply of fruits round the season.

Vining tomato varieties take a long time to grow taller and they become tall around 6- 10 feet in height. Staking and caging is essential for getting a better yield for indeterminate varieties but you can also grow them upside down as a hanging vine.

Pros and Cons:

Pros Cons
Supply fresh tomatoes season-long Not suitable for the shorter growing season
Best suitable for salad and daily dishes Require staking or caging for support
A lot of varieties Required broad space
Flavorful tomatoes

 

Semi-determinate varieties:

These varieties grow taller than determinate varieties but shorter than indeterminate varieties. The plant’s height reaches to 3-6 feet on average. They produce fruits for a longer period of time and not as bushy as determinate tomato varieties but less sprawl.

It won’t be wrong if we call them semi-indeterminate varieties.

 

#Classify Tomato Varieties According to Shape

Shape matters for tomatoes. In the midst of thousands of tomato varieties, they can also be classified by shape whether they are heirloom or hybrid, or bush or vine tomatoes.

Typically, you can find the following tomato varieties based on shape:

Globe tomatoes:

They are round in shape with medium size and mostly cultivated commercially.  Also known as slicing tomato due to its huge uses on salads, sandwiches, and burgers.

Beefsteak tomatoes:

The larger fruit with a flattened shape. They can weight on average around 200 g – 1 kg

Cherry tomatoes:

The cutest and smallest fruit. Average weight 12-25g with 25-35mm in diameter. Best suits for container, balcony or limited spaces.

Cocktail tomatoes:

Larger than a cherry tomato and smaller than classic or globe tomatoes.

Plum tomatoes:

Commonly known as paste tomatoes. They are medium sizes around 2-4 inches tall and oval in shape. Plum tomatoes are mildly acidic and flavorful. Best uses in making sauces and salsas.

Cylindrical tomatoes:

They are stretch with more-or-less parallel in both sides. Mostly used for making ketchup, paste,and sauces.

Currant tomatoes:

They are the tiny version of cherry tomatoes which grow on indeterminate manner. The average length of the plants up to 8 feet tall and each plant contain around 100 fruits. The fruit tastes sweet and perfect for preservation.

Pear tomatoes:

Pear shaped commonly known as corn seed tomatoes are heirloom indeterminate varieties. They are usually found in red, orange and yellow colors.  They taste sweet, pear in shape and small in size.

Campari tomatoes:

These varieties are similar to Cherry Tomatoes but simply larger. They taste sweet and best uses in salad and cooking.

Grape tomatoes:

They are small and oval shaped and looks like cherry tomatoes. They are extra sweetened and a great match for salad and lunch boxes.

Coyote tomatoes:

They are the tiny version of cherry tomatoes which are yellow color and plants are vigorous, wild and sprawling. They are indeterminate varieties and the taste is mind blowing.

Heart shaped tomatoes:

They are great for paste and canning, also known as Oxheart tomatoes, Hungarian heart tomato, Hogs Heart, Japanese Oxheart and so many names.

Lemon shaped tomatoes:

They are very lucrative, lemon shaped, yellow color hybrid varieties.

 

#Classify Tomato Varieties Based on Personal Preferences:

Each and every tomato variety have some specialty to make them unique. They have also some pros and cons. So, choosing the right tomato plant among thousands of varieties is overwhelming.

There has another way to find the right tomato variety based on the personal preferences of the gardener.

In this classification method, you can compare the characteristics of tomato varieties with your purpose of uses, garden location, length of the season and other relevant factors to determine right tomato plants.

Disease resistant varieties

Hybrid varieties are more disease resistant than heirloom varieties. If you want disease free plants for your garden or don’t want to face the hassle of extra caring to protect tomato plants, you must have to choose determinate hybrid tomato varieties.

Most of the heirloom varieties have less diseases resistant capacity than the hybrid varieties.

Length of the season

If you live in a planting zone which has shorter planting period, you must have to select the varieties which will make harvest in a shorter period of time. Length of the season is very important to determine the tomato plants.

In the circumstances, determinate hybrid tomato varieties are better than heirloom indeterminate tomato varieties.

Based on flavor and colors

If you grow tomatoes for flavors and colors heirloom indeterminate tomato varieties are the perfect solution for you.

Hardiness zone

You cannot grow the tomato varieties as you wish in your garden if the hardiness zones don’t allow the varieties.

It’s hardly possible to grow zone 9 tomato varieties in zone 3 as well as zone 3 varieties in zone 9.

Typically, tomatoes are warm weather plants and they harvest better in worm condition. But there have some special tomato varieties which are suitable for cold weather and can’t tolerant the over heat.

On the other hand, you can find some varieties which produce fruits round the year based on hardiness zones.

So, you have to consider the USDA hardiness zone for selecting tomato varieties.

Seed packets and plant tags have a proper instruction of a hardiness zone. Always check carefully the plant tags before buying any plants from the nursery or seed packets from a gardening store.

Microclimate

If you live in a microclimate area you can go beyond the hardiness zone and pick some varieties which doesn’t allow in your respective hardy zone.

Microclimate is a unique climate condition inside a larger climate which doesn’t behave like the larger climate.

Based on space and care

Garden space helps to determine the right tomato plants. If your garden has enough space, you can go for all types of tomato varieties like an heirloom or hybrid and determinate or indeterminate tomatoes.

On the other hand, when you have a limited space for gardening or wish to start container gardening go for determinate and hybrid varieties.

Setting a gardening goal

Hybrid or determinate tomato varieties are suitable for commercial farming because they produce bulk production all at once.

And heirloom and indeterminate tomato varieties are best uses for individual purposes like flavorful and colorful varieties for salad, making sauces or cooking round the season.

Purpose of uses

If you want to get fresh tomatoes all the year round for cooking or making salads, then indeterminate and heirloom tomato varieties will be the perfect solution.

On the other hand, if you want to preserve fruit through canning, drying, freezing or making sauces or pastes, then you better go for hybrid and determinate tomato varieties.

Tomato Varieties                                                       Best When Used for
Grape Salads Sandwiches Cooking Grilling Roasting Snacking Skewers
Red Beefsteak Salsa Sauces Dips Burgers Grilling
Green Beefsteak Salsa Sandwiches Sauces Desserts Juicing Pickling Grilling
Cherry Salads Sauces Grilling Skewers Snacking
Cocktail Sauces Roasting Stuffing Salads Pasta
Roma Sauces Sandwiches Soups Salads Pasting
Heirloom Salads Sandwiches Grilling Roasting Raw
Vining Sauces Soups Jams Salads Baking Grilling Raw
Determinate Sauces Canning Freezing Pickling Grilling

Irregular tomato varieties

Besides the regular tomato varieties, you can find some irregular tomato varieties such as seedless tomato or miniature tomato or dwarf varieties.

If you don’t like the slippery seeds of the tomatoes, there have some seedless tomato varieties including cherry, paste or slicing varieties. It’s sometimes difficult to find the seedless varieties in the local gardening center, so you better search online shops to get the suitable varieties for your local gardening zone.

Miniature or dwarf tomato varieties are suitable for balcony gardeners, container gardeners or hobby gardeners.

Conventional tomato varieties:

You often heard the varieties named Cherry tomatoes which are heirloom types most of the time and small in size and taking as fresh fruit or in salads and other dishes.

Roma tomatoes are determinate varieties, also known as paste or plum tomatoes. They have thicker fruit wall and contain fewer seeds than other tomato varieties. When you are determined to grow Roma or paste tomatoes, you are definitely going to make delicious sauces from it.

Beefsteak tomatoes are also familiar as slicing tomatoes. They are bigger like a baseball size. Commonly uses in sandwiches and burgers for their meaty content.

 

Conclusion

There have thousands of tomato varieties out there with different name and colors. Frankly speaking, you don’t need to bother them to pick the right one for your garden.

You just need to know the basic types and varieties of tomatoes and your purpose of uses and the zone you live in. This basic information will lead you to determine the suitable tomato varieties for your garden.

For example,

You live in zone 9, want to take fresh tomatoes or salads with your meals every day, have space limitations, then which tomato variety you choose?

—- You may choose semi-determinate tomato varieties which is compatible with zone 9, including a standard size container but bigger is better.

Now go to your local gardening store or nursery and just follow the sample question replacing your query.

I think you will get better feedback.

CAUTIONS:

A succession of growing tomatoes not only depend on selecting tomato varieties but also some other major factors like soil health, temperature, watering, disease control,and other important issues.

Become a successful gardener, you must have to well concerned about all the factors.

Happy gardening!!!

 

 

 

 Sources and Citations:

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