Tomatoes are truly a Southern staple and for that, they hold a place near and dear in our hearts. With more than 3,000 varieties of tomatoes to choose from, picking one to grow can be a difficult task. If you’re looking to add tomatoes to your garden this season, we have some tips on how to choose the best tomato variety for you. If your favorite tomato variety is the kind that’s on your dinner plate, don’t worry – this recipe from Callie’s Biscuits for a Lowcountry Tomato Pie will have you head over heels.
Adding tomatoes to your garden will not only provide you the essential ingredient for delicious sauces, but a wonderful color that will liven up your vegetable patch.
Hybrid or Heirloom tomatoes? With over 3,000 varieties of tomatoes, the first thing you need to do is get familiar with hybrid and heirloom tomatoes. While they might sound more like a science experiment you shouldn’t eat, hybrid tomatoes are quite delicious and produce crops that have not only have a better heat tolerance but also store for a longer period of time. The only downside is the inability to save your seeds from hybrid crops for the next season. Planting seeds from a hybrid tomato will not produce a crop that is “true to type”, or similar to the parent plant. Often times, these seeds will result with unpredictable traits.
For those who love heirloom tomatoes, be warned, they are a little harder to grow. Heirloom tomatoes are more prone to disease and insect problems (they love tomatoes too), and the plants are more likely to suffer growth deformities. Great heirloom varieties include ‘Cherokee Purple,’ ‘Brandy Wine’ and ‘Black Krim.’
Determinate or Indeterminate? Now that we know the difference between hybrid and heirloom tomatoes, we can decide whether we would like to grow smaller or larger tomatoes.
Smaller tomatoes, from the determinate variety, grow no more than four feet tall and will produce fruit within two to four weeks. Determinate variety types like ‘Bush Celebrity,’ ‘Mountain Pride’ and ‘Southern Star’ are great for canning and sauces.
Larger tomatoes, from the indeterminate variety, can grow up to ten feet tall and will continue to produce fruit until killed by frost. These tomatoes require more support and space than their smaller counterparts. Recommended indeterminate varieties include ‘Big Boy,’ ‘Beefmaster’ and ‘Better Boy.’
After you’ve decided on whether you want hybrid, heirloom, determinate or indeterminate, it’s time to set out and grow your favorite tomato!
Photos courtesy of SeedsNow and SeedsnSuch