Monday, January 6, 2014

Backyard Farmer: Topic 2 of 4: Tomatoes

Yep we all (or most of us at least) love tomatoes.  Tomatoes were actually my number 1 selling items last year (peaches and beets were close behind).

They are one of my favorite things to seed shop for.  I just get lost in the hundreds of varieties in all shapes and sizes: cherry, grape, black, striped, plum, orange, pear, white...and the list goes on.

As far as home gardening I get the more questions about tomatoes than any other item.

So let's break this down...

There are really two groups to know: determinate and indeterminate.

Basically determinate plants do two things: only grow to a certain height and most of the fruit ripens at the same time.

These guys keep growing and growing and growing! Fruit ripens at various times.

Just keep the above in mind when you are planing where you are planting your tomatoes and how you will be supporting the plants (tomato cage/trellis/etc.).

Here's some tomatoes that I just love and think would be great in your garden....

Juliets: these will produce tons of small grape-like red tomatoes that are just delicious. These are also great in a large pot with a tomato cage.

Brandymaster: This is a fun tomato that is pink and absolutely huge! Great flavor and one to show off to your friends.

Sungold Cherry: These little gems are totally snack-able.  Yellow tomatoes tend to have less acid and sweeter taste.  Only warning...they split very easily...very delicate and a royal pain in the booty to grow on a commercial scale but they are just so darn good!

Chocolate Cherry: I mean come on...the name says it could you say no to a "chocolate cherry."

Pineapple: a pretty yellow-reddish large heirloom tomato.  A tried and true variety and another one to impress your friends.

Dr. Carolyn: This is a really cool white-ish cherry tomato (can you see a trend...I love cherry tomatoes!).  A truly great flavor and texture.  Not to mention you will have more cherry tomatoes than you know what to do with....very large plant with lots of fruit.

*NOTE: Dark skinned tomatoes tend to have a thinner more tender in a very wet year like last year they will easily crack.  Just a little something to keep in mind.
Really when it comes to variety have fun...take your time and look at a bunch of seed catalogs and sites and pick what "looks good"....after all we eat with our eyes first.  Suggestions on where to buy are listed on my previous Backyard Farmer Post.

Farming is all about calculated risks and allow yourself the freedom for some "smart" play.

You will want tomatoes through out the season right? So you will want to plant in "rounds." We do 3 rounds of plantings.  When selecting varieties be shore to look if the description says, "early producer" or "great for late planting." You can seed these "rounds" about 3 weeks apart.

I have mixed feelings about pruning.  Yes, pruning can increase yield but it also opens the plant to disease and it's your call.  This is not something you "need" to do.
Not sure about pruning? Here is a video from Growing Wisdom that is helpful: 

One Last Thing:
You never want to work with tomatoes (pruning, staking (if you're hard core), picking, etc) when the plants are wet.  This is a really big way to spread disease!


  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you...great info for my little bit of heaven!

  2. Happy to help! Thanks for reading!

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