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Determinate vs. Indeterminate Tomatoes: Understanding the Differences

05 Oct 2023

Determinate vs. Indeterminate Tomatoes: Understanding the Differences



Tomatoes are a timeless classic beloved addition to countless dishes, from salads to sauces, and understanding the differences between determinate and indeterminate tomatoes can greatly influence your gardening and culinary endeavours. These two types of tomato plants have distinct growth patterns, fruit production, and maintenance requirements, making it essential to know which one suits your needs. Let's break it down!


Determinate Tomatoes:

Compact Growth: Determinate tomato plants are characterised by their bushy and compact growth habit. They typically reach a predetermined height and stop growing once they set fruit. 


Fruit Production: Determinate tomatoes produce their fruit in a concentrated period, often over a few weeks. This makes them ideal for gardeners looking to harvest a large crop for canning or preserving all at once.


Support: Since determinate varieties are generally shorter and bushier, they may require less staking or support compared to indeterminate types.


Limited Pruning: Pruning is usually minimal for determinate tomatoes because they have a defined growth pattern.


Container Gardening: These tomatoes are well-suited for container gardening or smaller spaces due to their compact size. Also known as Bush tomatoes. 


Heirloom, untreated tomato seed of determinate varieties we currently sell are: 


Arcadia, Banana Legs, Big Beef, Burnley Gem, Burwood Prize, ES58, Feldners 36, Golden Roma, Graf Zeppelin, Oregon Spring, Prosperity, Red Colossus, Roma, Romano Burghanese, Rumsey's Cross, Scoresby Dwarf, Silvery Fir Tree, Sugar Lump, Sweet William, Swift, Tatura Dwarf, Thai Pink Egg, Totem, Tristar, Urbana, Walter, White Cherry, Yellow Egg and Yellow Roma.


Indeterminate Tomatoes:


Continuous Growth: Indeterminate tomato plants have an open growth pattern and continue to grow and produce fruit throughout the growing season until they are affected by frost or disease.


Fruit Production: Indeterminate tomatoes provide a steady supply of fruit over an extended period, which is great for those who want fresh tomatoes throughout the season.


Support: These plants often require sturdy staking or trellising to support their tall and sprawling growth. Also known as climbing tomatoes. 


Pruning: Pruning is essential for indeterminate tomatoes to manage their vigorous growth and encourage airflow, which can help reduce the risk of disease.


Space Requirements: Indeterminate varieties need more space in the garden because of their continual growth and larger size.


Heirloom, untreated tomato seed of indeterminate varieities we currently sell are:


Aunty Ruby's Green, Best of Bonn, Big Pear, Black Cherry, Brandywine, Break O'Day, Burnley Surecrop, Canabe Super, Cherokee Purple, Cherry Camp Joy, Cherry Fox, Cherry Mix, College Challenger, Colonial, Costoluto Fiorentino, Daydream, Deutscher Fleiss, Earl Of Edgecombe, Earl's Faux, Early Cascace, Evergreen, Floralou, Garden Delight, German Johnson, Giant Syrian, Giant Tree, Golden Gourmet Filler, Golden Sunrise, Green Zebra, Grosse Lisse, Ice, Indian River, Italian Flat, Jaune Flamme, Jubilee, Kokomo, Kotlas, Lionheart, Lutschist Zurich, Mana Lucie, Manapal, Miniature Red Pear, Miniature Yellow Pear, Mix, Moneymaker, Mortgage Lifter Yellow, Napoli Paste, Nebraska Wedding, Nematex, One Hundred Percent, Orange Cherry, Oxheart Pink, Oxheart Red, Oxheart Yellow, Peach, Pineapple, Pink Delight, Pink Marbles, Pink Ping Pong, Potato Leaf, Ram's Horn, Red Cloud, Red Currant, Red Fig, Riesentraube, Riesetomate - (Traveler), Rouge De Marmande, Rumsey's Red, Russian Red, Saint Pierre, Salad Special, San Marzano, Santorini, Saturn, Strobelle, Stupice, Sunray, Super Sioux, Sweet English, Sweet Marbles, Tigerella, Tommy Toe, Tommy Toe Yellow, Tropic, Valiant, Wapsipinicon Peach, White Beauty, Yellow Cherry Honey Bee, Yellow Perfection, Yellow Stuffer, Yugoslav. 


Choosing the Right Tomato for You:


The choice between determinate and indeterminate tomatoes ultimately depends on your gardening goals and available space. If you desire a concentrated harvest for preserving, batch cooking, or have limited space, determinate tomatoes are a practical choice. On the other hand, if you want a continuous supply of fresh tomatoes over a longer season and have ample room for support structures, indeterminate varieties are a better fit.


Remember that there's no one-size-fits-all answer, and some gardeners choose to grow both types to enjoy the benefits of both concentrated and extended harvests. Whichever type you choose, tending to your tomato plants with care will yield delicious rewards come harvest time.


There is NOTHING that tastes better than a home grown, fresh plucked, sun warmed tomato. You just can't get that depth of flavour and rich nutritional profile from a tomato bought at the store. Give them a go this season, tomatoes really are an easy to grow and generously producing choice for both beginner and seasoned gardener alike.  



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