Choosing Tomato Varieties: Deciphering Indeterminate, Determinate and Dwarf Growth Habits

| 2/2/2016 10:05:00 AM

Tags: tomatoes, vegetable varieties, garden planning, Craig LeHoullier, North Carolina,

By now, your mailboxes are probably recovering from the strain of holding the endless stream of winter seed catalogs. Your eyes are likely red and tired from eyestrain as you flip through the pages. Possibly, your brain is hurting from sorting through the possibilities and making decisions. It reminds me my dilemma when deciding which music to listen to. My musical tastes are broad; I love music, and listen to it pretty much all day long. But sometimes trying to decide what to listen to brings about mental paralysis.

With thousands of choices of tomatoes available to tomato growers (especially if starting from seeds, rather than seedlings), a few simple basic considerations can provide some guidelines for narrowing the field, helping you make choices of what will appear in your garden this coming season.

Let’s start with one of the most basic attribute of a particular tomato variety – its growth habit. (In the next blog post, I will touch upon an equally important set of attributes – hybrid, heirloom and open pollinated.)

Indeterminate Tomato Varieties

Indeterminate tomatoes will be familiar to those who grapple annually with wild, tall, out of control plants that take up lots and lots of space. The central growing stem expands outward (or upward, if you tie it to a vertical stake or trellis) indefinitely – until you prune it at a particular height, or it is nibbled by a critter, or, most often, the plant dies at the end of the season from frost or disease.

2/6/2016 9:26:45 AM

FrancieG - thanks for your kind words. My intent with my blogs is to take tomato enthusiasts on the journey with me, but focus on those key decisions and techniques that will lead to an enjoyable experience. Ask anything, any time!

2/6/2016 5:55:43 AM

Thank you for this information. Now that I have a large yard I plan to plant things every year, but after reading so much stuff I get totally confused and overwhelmed that I get nothing done. Most articles have "too many words" and I close them before getting to the end, but this is information I can actually use.

mother earth news fair 2018 schedule


Next: April 28-29, 2018
Asheville, NC

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!