The three habits of highly effective tomatoes.

I didn’t really know this until recently, but it turns out Tomatoes come in one of three “Habits”. Those three habits are: determinate, indeterminate, and semi-determinate (less common.) 

A seething mass of indeterminate tomato plants overwhelming their cages. (September 28, 2008)

Determinate plants produce all of their fruit pretty much at once, and are generally shorter and bushier than their indeterminate relatives.

Indeterminate plants grow as long as the season will allow, and can reach many feet high with the right conditions. They can be grown in cages, but will overwhelm the cage when they get a particulary good growing season. They can also be grown vertically on a trellis, which will allow them to reach for the sky and receive plenty of light.

I did some research to better understand the habits of my young plants. It turns out all the plants I worked with last year except the Roma Tomatoes are of the Indeterminate variety. This certainly explains why my Roma plants were relatively small and many of the other varieties outgrew their cages.  One new variety for this year, Siberian, is also of the determinate variety.

This year, I plan to build trellises for the four new fully raised beds that aren’t already earmarked for Potato Production. I will probably use one of these to grow additional beans, and the others to grow tomatoes. This is also a good way to begin a crop rotation to minimize pests. I can train some of my indeterminate tomatoes to grow vertically in the back rows of my beds one year, and plant beans in the same location the next year.  Much of this learning and the idea to grow tomatoes on trellises instead of in cages come from a couple great articles on Judy’s Square foot garden blog

Ofcourse, we may also have to try a Topsy Turvy which grows tomatoes upside down this year.  They are all the rage, and Amy would like to try one for fun.  I’m not one to say no to garening projects and products.  (JK and Ingunn had good luck with their’s last year using extra tomato starts which I grew.)

Seed Year Source Habit
Tomatillo, Purple de Milpa 2010 Seed Savers effectively indeterminate
This is the smaller purple variety that grows in cornfields. Fruits are 1-1½” and have a sharper flavor than most other varieties. Typically does not burst through husk when ripe. 70-90 days from transplant.
Tomato, Better boy hybrid 2008 Ferry Morse indeterminate
abundance of extra large fruits, some weighing 1 1/2 pounds, praised for their delicious meaty flavor. Deep red, smooth, firm fruits.
Tomato, Black Krim 2010 Seed Savers indeterminate
Named for the Crimean peninsula in the Black Sea. Slightly flattened 4-5″ globes with dark greenish-black shoulders, turns almost black with enough heat and sun. Excellent full flavor. Indeterminate, 69-90 days from transplant.
Tomato, Blonkophchen 2010 Seed Savers indeterminate
(a.k.a. Little Blonde Girl) Small golden-yellow 1″ fruits with excellent sweet taste. Fruits are borne in giant clusters, enormous yields and never a cracked fruit. Bears until frost. Indeterminate, 75-80 days from transplant
Tomato, Gold Medal 2010 Seed Savers indeterminate
Listed in Ben Quisenberry’s 1976 seed list as, “Large, yellow, streaked red; firm and smooth. Very little acid. The sweetest tomato you ever tasted…..a gourmet’s joy when sliced.” Our finest bi-colored tomato and one of our all-time favorites. Winner of the 2008 tomato tasting. Indeterminate, 90 days from transplant.
Tomato, Green Zebra 2010 Seed Savers indeterminate
Green 1½ – 2½” fruits with various shades of yellow to yellowish-green stripes, sweet zingy flavor. Very productive plants, sure to be a best seller at market. Introduced in 1985 by Tater Mater Seeds. Indeterminate, 75-80 days from transplant.
±10,900 seeds/oz
Tomato, Jubilee (yellow) 2008 Ferry Morse indeterminate
An All-American Selection! Golden-orange fruits have a mild, non-acid flavor. They are large, globular and smooth with a meaty thick-walled interior.
Tomato, Mexico Midget 2010 Seed Savers indeterminate
Very prolific plants continue producing throughout the entire growing season. Hundreds of round ½” fruits give an incredible flash of rich tomato flavor, great for salads or selling in pints. One of the best. Indeterminate, 60-70 days from transplant.
Tomato, Red Cherry, Large Fruited 2006 Ferry Morse indeterminate
Deliciously sweet, bite-sized red tomatoes can be used in salads or served on toothpicks as appetizers.
Tomato, Roma VFN 2008 Ferry Morse determinate
A heavy-yielding variety used for preserves, solid-pack canning, tomato paste and puree. Very little juice and of mild flavor.
Tomato, Siberian 2010 Seed Savers determinate
Dwarf sprawling plants with very early sets of fruits. Introduced through SSE in 1984 by Will Bonsall, originally from the Lowden Collection. Egg-shaped 2-3″ fruits, good strong flavor. Not to be confused with Siberia, because Siberian is superior in all qualities. Determinate, 57-60 days.
Tomato, Stupice 2010 Seed Savers indeterminate
One of the four Czechoslovakian tomato varieties sent to the U.S. by Milan Sodomka. Potato-leaf 4′ plants loaded with 2½” by 2″ diameter fruits borne in clusters. Extremely early, great flavor. Heavy yields all season. Produces well in northern climates. Indeterminate, 55-70 days from transplant.
Tomatoes, Brandywine (Sudduth’s Strain) #427 2010 Seed Savers indeterminate
Large pink beefsteak fruits to 2 pounds. Incredibly rich, delightfully intense tomato flavor. Indeterminate, 90 days from transplant.

1 Response

  1. Amy says:

    Ahh, so this is why our tomatoes went nuts last year in the summer heat! It was their habits! Who knew! 🙂

    PS: I want a topsy truvy!

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