The Right Tomato for Your Garden

The selection of tomatoes available to the home gardener is vast and has just one thing in common: In a taste test, any could go head-to-head with a mass-produced, grocery store variety and come out the winner. Knowing that you’re ahead of the game from the start, what’s the best tomato plant for your small green garden?

In order to maximize a limited garden area, it’s wise to seek out determinate or “bush” tomato varieties. These grow more compactly than other (indeterminate, vining) varieties, which means a better usage of tight space. It’s harder to find this information than it should be — it’s not typically printed on seed packets, so if you planning on starting seeds indoors, look to a regional mail-order seed company that will tell you exactly what kind of ‘mato you’re dealing with. Alternatively, you can find young tomato plants — and all the knowledge that went into starting them — at a nursery or spring farmers’ market.

If you’ve got room for several plants, then you might be able to grow a couple different varieties that mature at different times. This is crucial for getting the most out of your harvest when you’ve got limited kitchen and/or freezer space: No one likes to see tomatoes curdling on the countertop, but this happens to the most resourceful of us when we’re dealing with armfuls of ripe tomatoes all at once (sounds like a dream, can be a nightmare). Early ripening varieties can produce fruits weeks earlier than their late-season counterparts. Most seed packets include “days to maturity” information that you can compare and contrast, but you can usually find early producers based on name alone: “Early Girl,” “Siberian,” “Glacier”…the colder the name, the sooner you’re likely to have ‘em.

Which is not to say that these beauts will tolerate anything but the sunniest spot on your porch; tomatoes love sun and heat from their earliest days, so give them pride of place in your kitchen garden!

One Response to “The Right Tomato for Your Garden”

  1. A Roberts

    In order to maximize a limited garden area, it’s wise to seek out determinate or “bush” tomato varieties. These grow more compactly than other (indeterminate, vining) varieties, which means a better usage of tight space. It’s harder to find this information than it should be — it’s not typically printed on seed packets, so if you planning on starting seeds indoors, look to a regional mail-order seed company that will tell you exactly what kind of ‘mato you’re dealing with. Alternatively, you can find young tomato plants — and all the knowledge that went into starting them — at a nursery or spring farmers’ market.

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