- Author: Julie Silva
Tomatoes come in many different sizes–from pea-size to almost 3 pounds and as large as a grapefruit! Different sizes fulfill different needs; cherry tomatoes are perfect for salads, omelets, kebobs, and snacking. Medium size round tomatoes are easier to use for canning. Oblong, meaty tomatoes with less moisture are perfect for sauces, paste, or salsa. Large tomatoes, referred to as slicing tomatoes, are your hamburger's best friend.
You can find many different colors of tomatoes, including red, pink, black, purple, orange, yellow, green, yellow-white, swirls, and striped. Sometimes when sliced, the tomato could take on another color completely!
When deciding which tomato to grow it helps to decipher the tag. Tomatoes are either determinate or indeterminate. Determinate tomatoes grow to a particular height, then stop and put on a majority of fruit all at once. Indeterminate tomatoes continue to grow and will produce tomatoes along the branches throughout the growing season. It's usually best to grow both types.
You'll notice on plant tags some capital letters after the tomato variety name. Those letters indicate the tomato's resistance to a particular disease. You can read about these diseases as well as disorders and pests of tomatoes on the UC IPM Tomatoes page.
- V Verticillium Wilt
- F Fusarium Wilt
- N Nematodes
- ASC Alternaria Stem Canker
- TMV Tobacco Mosaic Virus
- ST Stemphylium (Grey leaf spot)
- SWV Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus
- LB Late Blight
Many hybrid tomatoes carry the VFN designation, unless they are heirlooms. Hybrid tomatoes are grown by crossing varieties to improve traits, making them stronger, more disease resistant and better producers. However, if you plant the seeds from a hybrid tomato, they won't produce the same tomato. This is why many people like to grow heirloom tomatoes and save the seeds for the following year.
To find the top ten tomatoes, be prepared to discover many lists. Opinions are like tomatoes: everyone has a favorite of their own! One of the most popular cherry tomatoes is ‘Sun Gold'; it's considered the sweetest tomato. The favorite early-season tomato is ‘Early Girl,' which is a determinate that produces within 54 days from seed. For main season tomatoes, ‘Celebrity,' ‘Fantastic,' ‘Better Boy,' and ‘Ace' (70-80 days) are popular.
Summer for many people just does not start until that first hamburger with a slab of tomato right out of the garden. Here at the UCCE Stanislaus Master Gardener's Office we are curious: have you planted your tomato plants yet? What's your favorite tomato variety? Please sign in and post your comments below, or on our Facebook page.
Special thanks to Julie Silva for this guest post. She is a UCCE Master Gardener in Tuolumne County.