There are two types of tomato plants: determinate and indeterminate.
Determinate Tomato – The determinate tomatoes grow to a certain height (usually 4′ or less) and all the tomatoes ripen about the same time. These are also referred to as bush tomatoes and are used mainly for container or patio gardening.
Indeterminate Tomato -Indeterminate tomatoes are really vines that are grown like a tall plant. They continue to get taller and taller throughout the growing season and can reach 6′-10′ high. They will continue to bloom and bear fruit until the cold weather kills them off. Staking is an absolute necessity for indeterminate tomatoes, unless the plant is grown as a hanging vine. Since the plant is tall and heavy it needs strong support.
Most tomato seedlings sold in nurseries for transplanting into the garden are of this variety. Determinate tomatoes are sold as patio tomatoes or bush tomatoes.
Heirloom and Hybrid Tomatoes:
Heirloom Tomatoes– Most tomatoes bought in the store are hybrids and do not have the flavor, texture and colors that are associated with heirloom tomatoes. Heirlooms have more flavor, whether acidic or sweet, and more anti-oxidants than the hybrids. The seeds from the heirlooms can be saved and planted from year to year. Heirlooms usually produce less fruit than the hybrids and so you may need to plant more of them.
Heirlooms come in a wider variety of colors, sizes and flavors than the hybrid. It’s fun to try
several to see which ones appeal to you. The darker ones have a richer, more acidic flavor while the light pink or yellow ones have a milder sweet flavor. Heirlooms can be yellow, green (even when ripe), purple, orange, white, and even striped. You can pick heirloom tomatoes as soon as they begin to ripen. They don’t need sunshine to finish ripening.
Besides not producing as much fruit, the heirlooms aren’t as disease resistant as the hybrids.
Not that it affects the flavor of the fruit but the shape and color of the heirlooms isn’t as uniform and can sometimes seem deformed.
It’s a good idea to plant both heirlooms and hybrids because if the heirlooms fail to produce for some reason, you will have a lot better chance of getting tomatoes with hybrids.
Heirlooms are fun to grow and share. There are so many to try, see which ones you like best.
Hybrid Tomatoes –
Hybrid tomatoes have been created through selective breeding over the years. They are more uniform in color and shape than the heirlooms but the flavor isn’t as intense. The plants produce more fruit and are more resistant to disease and pests. Hybrid tomatoes are found in grocery stores and farmer’s markets everywhere.
Because of the selective breeding, the seeds of the hybrid won’t be true and so you have to get seeds for your favorite hybrids from the seed companies. Unless marked otherwise, most seedlings sold for transplanting into the home garden are hybrid tomato plants.
Different Sized Tomatoes:
Tomatoes come in so many sizes, from grape size to giant tomatoes. The small ones are great for snacking and in salads. The larger ones are for slicing, and cooking with or bottling. Tomatoes are probably the most used vegetable (fruit) in our culture. It’s easy to grow a variety to suite your taste and needs.