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Friday, May 3, 2013

Determinate Tomato Basics: Height, Fruit, Death and Garden Uses

Determinate Tomato Basics: Garden Uses

There are two basic tomato categories and they are determinate tomatoes and indeterminate tomatoes. Determinate tomatoes, in general, grow to a set height, produce all their fruit at once and then die off. They tend to produce fruit sooner than indeterminate tomato varieties. These differences are valuable in the garden.

Indeterminate tomatoes continue to grow through the season and produce fruit continuously. They typically grow until frost or disease gets them. They can get quite large and unruly. They need pruning and staking.

Determinate tomatoes are great for short growing seasons or areas that get diseases. Because determinate tomatoes can bring you mature tomatoes in 55-70 days (generally earlier than indeterminates), they can often mature before disease gets them or the cold arrives. They require less staking and really don't need pruning. They are also great for container tomatoes. All qualities that have use in your gardens.

I grow both determinate and indeterminate tomatoes in my garden. There are some things to consider when planting determinates in your garden. Determinate varieties can be 2, 3 or 4 feet tall. They are much more compact than your indeterminate cherry tomatoes that can breach 7 feet and grow everywhere. Therefore, you can plant them closer together and plant them by height. They also die off sooner and can be removed for planting other vegetables.

You want to your tomatoes by height as to not let the larger determinate varieties or larger indeterminates, cast shadows and shade out your other smaller tomato plants or other vegetables. A generally rule of thumb is to plant the smallest height tomato closer to the side of the garden that gets most of the afternoon sun. If you put both arms out... and the sun is closer to your right hand...you plant the smaller plants to the right and the larger ones as you approach your left hand.

This video video introduce 4 varieties of  determinate tomatoes; 'early wonder', 'silver fir', 'oregon spring' and 'marglobe'. The indeterminate varieties are 'abraham lincoln' and 'aunt ruby's german green'. I basically discuss the ideas in this blog entry.

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