One of the keys to getting a successful tomato harvest is to start off with the correct variety. Unfortunately the proper variety for one area of the country is different for other areas of the country. This is because there are different diseases and insects present in certain areas, and it would be best to choose a tomato cultivar that is resistant to such strains. This can be a confusing task, as I’m sure you’ve heard about the heirloom tomatoes, as well as the disease resistant hybrids, that are updated every year.
Different varieties of tomatoes ripen at different times. If you want to get tomatoes as soon as possible you can select an early tomato variety such as Fourth of july or Early girl. They can begin producing tomatoes as early as 60 days from being transplanted into your garden. You can also choose midseason and late season tomato cultivars to enjoy a harvest all season long. When you buy a particular variety generally it is marked with “days to maturity”. This means when you can start expecting ripe produce after you have transplanted your seedlings into your garden.
Perhaps you have heard of indeterminate and determinate tomatoes. Determinate tomatoes will stop growing when the plants begin to flower. Unfortunately most of the tomatoes will ripen at about the same time, therefore there is not much of a time span to enjoy the tomatoes. If you like to can your tomatoes this is not a problem, as all the fruit ripens in about 2 weeks. One of the advantages of determinate tomatoes is the fact that they stay relatively small, and don’t need to be staked. If you are growing your tomatoes on a patio or in containers don’t feel you need to select a determinate variety. A good choice would be a patio or bush variety, as they will stay compact, but at the same time produce tomatoes all season long. Indeterminate varieties will product vegetables all season long. The vines will continue to grow, and need to be staked. If you don’t stake your plants they may fall over or even snap when large heavy tomatoes begin to set on the plants.
When selecting a tomato variety think about what you intend to do with your tomatoes. Will you be canning them, freezing them, trying to win at the county fair with the largest tomato,eating them in salads or sandwiches, or making tomato sauce with them. Depending upon your goal, will definitely influence the tomato variety you select. Plum tomatoes definitely make the best tomato sauce, so if that is what you want to do with your tomatoes choose a type of plum tomato for your garden. If you like smaller tomatoes you might want to grow cherry or plum tomatoes, both of which are excellent in salads.
Tomatoes are bred to resist certain diseases. If you have looked in seed catalogs, or visited local nursery’s I am sure you have seen various initial after the plants. This includes F which stands for fusarium resistance, N which stands for nematode resistance, or V which stands for verticillium resistance. Additionally you may see a T that stands for resistance to tomato mosaic virus, or A which stands for alternaria which is a fungus that results in early blight. If you have a local extension agency in your area contact them to see what diseases are common in your area.