Some people think growing great tomatoes is an art, while it seems to come naturally to others. In this article we'll explore your many varieties available and explain the tricks of the trade to help get you growing awesome tomatoes in no time!
A little tomato history-
Having originated in America, the word "tomato" may refer to the plant (Solanum lycopersicum) or the edible, typically red, fruit that it bears.
The tomato is consumed in many different ways, including being eaten raw right off the vine, as an ingredient in many dishes such as pico and on hamburgers, in sauces such as spaghetti sauce and salsa, and in drinks. While it is botanically a fruit, it is considered a vegetable for culinary purposes.
Varieties of Tomatoes
There are around 7500 tomato varieties grown for various purposes. Heirloom tomatoes are becoming increasingly popular, particularly among home gardeners and organic producers, since they tend to produce more interesting and flavorful crops at the cost of disease resistance and productivity.
Hybrid plants remain common, since they tend to be heavier producers, and sometimes combine unusual characteristics of heirloom tomatoes with the ruggedness of conventional commercial tomatoes.
Tomatoes are divided roughly into several categories based mostly on their shape & size.
"Slicing" or "Globe"- used for a wide array of fresh eating & processing.
"Beefsteak"- these tomatoes are large and often used on sandwiches & hamburgers.
"Oxheart"- are about the same size range as Beefsteaks but are shaped like large strawberries.
"Plum" tomatoes- also called paste tomatoes as these are perfect for making tomato sauces & paste, are usually oblong in shape.
Aren't all tomatoes red?
Many people might be surprised to discover that tomatoes DO come in colors other than red. Virtually all commercial tomato varieties are red, some, especially Heirlooms produce fruit in other colors. Including green, yellow, orange, purple, pink, white, ivory, brown and even black!
Explore Your Options & Grow Your Own!
Its a proven fact that there is a considerable difference in store bought tomatoes and the home-grown varieties. Store tomatoes are grown for consistent size & shape, to be disease & pest resistant and to tolerate machine picking, packing and shipping. Home grown tomatoes on the other hand are grown for perfect flavor regardless of size or shape or perceived "durability".
The tomato belongs to the nightshade family. Tomato plants typically grow to 3–10 ft. in height and have a weak stem that often sprawls over the ground and vines over other plants. This is why when planting, tomato cages are a good investment.
Determinate or Indeterminate?
Determinate, or bush, types bear a full crop all at once and top off at a specific height; they are often good choices for container growing. Determinate types are preferred by home growers interested in canning.
Indeterminate varieties develop into vines that never top off and continue producing until killed by frost. They are preferred by home growers and local-market farmers who want ripe fruit throughout the season. As an intermediate form, there are plants sometimes known as vigorous determinate or semideterminate; these top off like determinates, but produce a second crop after the initial crop. The majority of heirloom tomatoes are indeterminate.
"Pear" tomatoes- pear shaped and creat a richer gourmet paste.
"Cherry" tomatoes- and all time favorite for kids to grow, these are small and round and are often sweet.
"Grape" tomatoes- smaller oblong shape, these are a variation of the plum tomatoes and are great in salads.