Winter and spring months are the times gardeners face a seemingly endless list of tomato varieties in seed catalogs. If you don’t grow your own, consider the varieties we offer:
"Big Beef" (75 Days, Indeterminate)
"Early Girl" (59 Days, Indeterminate.)
"Husky Cherry Red" (65 Days, Determinate)
"Jetstar" (72 Days, Indeterminate)
"Mountain Fresh" (75 Days, Indeterminate)
"New Girl" (62 Days, Indeterminate)
"Roma" (75 days, Determinate)
"Sun Gold" (65 Days, Indeterminate)
"Supersweet 100" (65 DaysIndeterminate)
"Brandywine Red" (85 Days, Indeterminate, Heirloom)
Rather than end up with a variety that may not suit your tastes or needs, there are a few traits to keep in mind when choosing tomato plants.
There are four main growth habits for tomato plants: determinate, indeterminate, compact, and the rater new hanging or “tumbling.”
Determinate or “bush” tomatoes grow to a certain point, then produce a fruit cluster and side shoots. Usually the typical tomato wire cage suffices for support and you won’t need to prune off any shoots. Determinate cultivars usually bear fruit early, and over a shorter period of 4 to 6 weeks. This is helpful if you want to pick lots of fruit at the same time for sauces or canning, or want some early harvests.
Indeterminate tomatoes keep on growing like a vine, hence the term you may see for them, “vining.” Fruit clusters on indeterminate are spaced farther apart along the stems (often every third leaf) than determinate, and often produce more and larger fruit, and over a longer period. With more leaves, it may take diseases (if present) longer to affect all of them. The more leaves often result in more sugars and so, sweeter fruit. Indeterminate definitely will need staking, usually with 5’ supports and pruned so there are no more than four main stems.
Fruiting season or “time to maturity” (approximate time from planting until first fruit ripen, listed on plant tag), shape, size, color, and uses are all considerations. In cold climates with short growing seasons, long-season cultivars may not have enough time to ripen many fruit for you. Conversely, a variety like Early Girl or New Girl are good early cultivars. Colors range from the typical reds and pinks to yellow such as small cherry-type Sun Gold . Use is an important trait: slicers such as Big Beef, Mountain Fresh, and Brandywine have large fruit 4”-8” across and are good for slicing, eating fresh, or putting on sandwiches; ‘Cherry’ or small-fruited cultivars, Husky Red Cherry, Supersweet 100, and Sun Gold, have many small fruit, often an inch wide in clusters, great eaten alone or in salads; and for sauces, try the popular “Roma.” Jet Star is a good slicer and great for canning.
(Excerpts taken from an article by Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Service, University of Vermont in the NH Weekly Market Bulletin.)