Next DIG IT Class: Tomatoes 101!
Do you have questions about growing tomatoes? Then join us Saturday, April 4th from 1-2PM for the next DIG IT class at Persimmon Park – Tomatoes 101! We’ll be talking about choosing varieties, the best tomato for large or small scale gardening, trellising, pruning, and more. The class is free and open to the public, so bring all your friends, family, and lots of questions! And if you can’t wait for the class, below are some pointers of how to choose the best tomato for you and your garden.
DETERMINATE VS. INDETERMINATE
One thing to always consider when choosing a tomato is whether it’s a determinate or an indeterminate variety. Determinate tomato plants stay relatively small and compact – imagine a three or four foot high bush. Indeterminate tomatoes, on the other hand, are much more unruly and wild. In a blink of an eye, they can grow up to seven or eight feet tall and four feet wide! So if you have minimal space in your garden, determinate bush tomatoes are definitely the way to go. Keep in mind, too, that determinate tomatoes produce fruit for a couple of weeks and then are done for the year, whereas their indeterminate friends will continue producing fruit until the weather turns too inhospitable and cold for them to survive. Both types need some form of trellising and staking, but indeterminate varieties obviously need much more.
HYBRID VS. HEIRLOOM
You may have noticed that tomatoes are often classified as “hybrid” or “heirloom.” The difference between the two is simple: hybrid tomatoes have been bred and genetically modified for particular marketing, growing, or distribution purposes. For example, some have been bred to resist particular diseases or pests, while others have been modified to have thicker skins to prevent bruising or to last longer on the shelves of our grocery stores. Heirloom tomatoes, however, have not been crossed or modified – instead their seeds have been handed down from generation to generation without any changes. Both types of tomato can be delicious, but please know that growing heirlooms is not necessarily more difficult or challenging. I’ve know many beginner gardeners who have successfully grown delicious heirloom tomatoes!
No matter which tomato varieties you choose to grow, always remember to have fun and leave some room for experimentation. If you have room for three tomato plants, pick two of your favorites and then try something new with your third. You never know – it may turn out to be your new favorite! Personally, I’m a big fan of black tomatoes such as black krim and black cherry, but I’m also a sucker for the super sweet and early producing sun golds you see in the picture above.
Happy gardening and I hope to see you at our Tomato 101 class on Saturday, April 4th!
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