Friday, April 13, 2012

What is the Difference between Determinate and Indeterminate Tomato Plants?

If a gardener chooses to grow only one vegetable, it is most likely the tomato. If you have ever eaten a sun warmed and ripened tomato, you know why. The store bought ones just don't come close to the kind of party in your mouth that a home grown tomato gives.
So you are going to plant tomatoes, but you are looking at the varieties, and want to know why some say Determinate, and some say Indeterminate. Guess no more.
Determinate tomatoes are actually more like bushes, they grow, flower, then fruit. Very predictable. The fruit set at close to the same time, so you can make salsa, or bottle tomatoes, or eat them like crazy. But they don't get all that large, and do best in a tomato cage to keep the fruit from touching the ground. I like to think of them as easy to determine when they will produce- so they are the determinate tomatoes.
Indeterminate tomatoes are actually vines. They keep growing and growing, and along with the growing, they keep producing flowers and fruit. In the end they are much bigger plants then the determinate, and will produce earlier, and keep producing past the determinate varieties. It is also said that the indeterminate varieties have more tasty tomatoes, but to me I love them both. Indeterminate tomato vines, should be trellised and pruned. If you leave them untrained and sprawling, they will take up a lot of space, but trellised they can be planted quite close together.
Hope this helps! Please post any questions or answers you might have.
Happy Gardening!

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