Monday, March 16, 2009

Tomato Talk

There are two main varieties of plants when it comes to tomatoes - Determinate & Indeterminate. Here's how to tell the difference.

Indeterminate means the variety will blossom & produce fruits throughout the season. You'll have crops usually until frost (the gardener's nemesis) shows up. The plant will provide a lush growth so it's a good idea to prune it. Pinch out the shoots that develop in the 'U' between the main stem and the branch. Pruning has the added bonus of rewarding you with larger tomatoes. If you choose not to prune, you'll have smaller tomatoes..and more of them. Also - stake your plants up off the soil, but make sure they are loosely tied.

Country Taste and Golden Sweet (right) are examples of Indeterminate tomatoes.

How do you know if your tomato plant is Indeterminate? Look at the main stem. There should be three lead stems growing from the main stem. Located either under or above these three stems is a flower cluster. If this pattern is repeated along the main stem, you've got yourself an Indeterminate tomato!

On the other hand, Determinate tomato plants are a compact bushy plant. They will grow to a certain height with a number of fruit clusters and will not grow beyond that. These tomato plants will produce fruit and ripen in a short time so be prepared to have a main harvest that is condensed over a few weeks.

How do you know if your tomato plant is Determinate? Instead of three leaf stems and a flower cluster, you will see only two leaf stems and a cluster. And put the pruners away! No need to prune this variety. Just place a cage around the plant when it is small and harvest from it with ease.

No matter which variety you choose to grow use high potash tomato food after the first truss has set. This will encourage ripening & will boost your crop. A tip for the Organic Gardener : Do a little companion planting.
Place Margiolds around your tomato plants.
It is believed they repel White fly and increase crops naturally.

Are you growing tomatoes from seed? Read our online growing guide

Many thanks to the National Gardening Bureau
for letting us share some of their Tomato knowledge.

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