Tremendous Tomato Types
There are two main types of tomato plants: determinate and indeterminate. Depending on your garden you may have one, the other, or both. It’s quite important to know what type of tomato you’re planting so that you know how to manage them throughout the summer.
Determinate tomato types are so called because they grow to a pre-determined size (3-4′ usually) and will set flowers and fruit within a specific window. They can produce a healthy harvest of tomatoes all at once, or over the course of a couple weeks. This type of tomato can be advantageous when you have a smaller garden or want a tomato that’s easier to tame than their indeterminate counterparts.
Sauce and ‘plum’ tomatoes are often determinates, like Romas and paste tomatoes, which are perfect for making big batches of sauce to can for the winter. For some more details on growing Roma or other determinate tomatoes, check out our post here.
Indeterminate tomato types grow to an undetermined height for an undetermined amount of time, setting new flowers and ripening fruit as long as they are healthy and happy, sometimes all the way to November. There are some truly incredible tomatoes in this type, including many heirloom varieties, and with proper care these plants will provide a steady supply of delicious fruit.
However, because these plants live a long time and can grow well over 10 feet tall, they require more care and attention. These types of plants require staking (trellising) and pruning (‘suckering’) throughout the season for optimal results.
There’s One Born Every Minute
We’re talking about suckers. No, not that kind. Suckers are what we call the new growth emerging from the upper side of where the stem meets the branches. Each sucker is a new lead for the plant, and left untended will cause massive, uncontrollable bushing, sick plants, and a diminished yield.
The goal of ‘suckering’ or pruning your tomato plant is so that you train it to have 1 or 2 ‘leads’ or main stems. This will allow you to manage your plant, and harvest more easily, while also encouraging the health of your tomato plants.
To sucker your indeterminate tomatoes, look at the ‘nodes’ on the main stem. At the junction between the main stem there will be offshoots of leaves, tomato bracts (flowering parts) and growing tips which would go on to produce large, vining offshoots. Our goal is to pinch out these little growing tips before they ‘suck’ energy from the main stem or our fruits. We like to do it by hand, or with a clean pair of shears.
NOTE: Make sure you’re cleaning those scissors as you move through the garden, or you’ll spread any diseases between your plants. Don’t remove leaves, or flowering parts of the plant unless they are damaged.
Trellising for Success
Determinate tomatoes need less support than indeterminate varieties, but they still need to be supported. Keeping your plants and fruit up off the ground will help you avoid damaged tomatoes, and encourage airflow between your plants which is necessary for success. Cages can be a cost effective and easy way to prop up your plants. Trellis for Tomorrow normally employs the ‘Florida-weave’ method of trellising our tomatoes. To learn more about the Florida-weave style of trellising, check out our June Tips and Tricks blog post.