Every home gardener who grows vegetables will tell you that tomatoes are their pride and joy, and for good reason: there is nothing like the taste of a home-grown, sun-ripened, juicy tomato fresh from the garden. Whatever the variety, nothing says summer better!
Tomatoes come in so many different shapes, colours, sizes and textures, from somewhat acidic to slightly sweet. Not surprising then that tomatoes are the fruit most consumed all over the world, and the most popular choice among home gardeners. Raw, cooked, preserved, in a salad, salsa, condiment, sauce or coulis: the versatile tomato can do it all!
Size, taste, colour, use
There are literally thousands of cultivars and so many ways to use them, so you'll have to do your research. Some tomatoes have a lot of seeds, and others very few or none at all. Some have thicker skin, others have dense and meaty flesh. In addition to the traditional red tomato, there are white, yellow, black, pink, blue, purple, orange and bicolour varieties as well. And they are polymorphous: flat, spherical, heart-shaped, pear-shaped, and even horn-shaped!
Days to maturity
Early maturing varieties are harvested 55 days after transplanting, whereas late varieties are harvested after 85 days.
- Space and climate permitting, choose at least three varieties with staggered maturing dates in order to ensure a continuous harvest.
Since tomatoes require a lot of sun and heat, the climate of your region could influence your choice.
- In northern climates where the summer is shorter and not as hot, early maturing varieties should be favoured over late varieties.
There are two types of tomato plants: determinate and indeterminate.
Determinate tomatoes, or bush tomatoes:
- Grow to a compact height, generally 1 metre
- Stop growing after producing a number of clusters
- All tomatoes ripen early and at approximately the same time
- Although less bountiful, the fruit is just as delicious
- Ideal for container planting on balconies.
- Will grow and produce fruit until the first frost
- These climbers can reach a height of 2 metres
- Must be pruned and staked
- More stems, more leaves, more flowers, and by extension, more fruit
- They also need more space, which makes them ideal for the vegetable garden or flowerbeds in open ground. They may be planted in containers, providing the containers are large enough.