One of the most popular gardening plants in the Pacific Northwest are tomatoes, but all too often with thousands of tomato varieties in existence, it can be difficult to know which is best for your gardening needs. Tomatoes can be categorized into two primary types. Grange Co-op Gardening Expert Kraig Rucker explains the differences between bush (determinate) and vine (indeterminate) tomatoes. This information is pertinent to making sure you choose the right tomato varieties to meet your expectations.
Determinate versus Indeterminate
Determinate tomato (bush variety), generally smaller size and produce all their fruit at the same time. These are best if you want a large amount of yield at one time, this is helpful when you’re canning your tomatoes. Determinate varieties are also great for container gardening because of their smaller size, they don’t need as much soil room because they’re smaller and don’t have as extensive of a root system.
Indeterminate tomato (vine variety), are larger and will continue to grow and produce fruit until they die. These types require greater amount of soil and growing space. You’ll need to cage them or stake them. Not as well suited for growing in containers but can be done if you grow it in a substantial size pot.
You can find what type of variety a tomato is by looking on the back of the plant tag. It will read in the description, determinate or indeterminate.
How much sun do tomatoes need?
All tomatoes need full sun, some more than others. Generally, the smaller the size of the tomato fruit, the less amount of sun required. The larger the fruit, the more sun is needed to ripen that fruit.
When a plant tag reads ‘full sun’ it’s important to recognize what that actually means. Full sun is categorized by 6 or more hours of sun a day. Less than that is considered part shade. Take note of how many hours a day your gardening space receives prior to choosing the plants for it. While easily avoidable, this is a common error gardeners often make.
If your space receives a shorter amount of sunlight every day, choose smaller fruit varieties such as: Sungold, Juliet Grape Tomato, Sweet 100 or Yellow Pear. If your space receives plenty of full sun, take advantage by growing large fruit varieties such as: Beefsteak, Big Boy, Brandywine or Mortgage Lifter.
No matter the variety of tomato you choose, the satisfaction of gardening, working towards producing something delicious, is fulfilling. For additional information on growing tomatoes and other gardening topics, visit our GrangeKnows page.