Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Year of the Tomato

Topsy Turvy tomato
A couple of weeks ago my youngest, who is in school in Boston, called to ask about growing tomatoes in one of the Up Side Down grow bags. She asked if they started tomatoes from seed would they bear fruit this year. Well, apparently, I have been neglectful of her horticultural education (tho I may say that she is getting a first rate education in information science and it has been worth every penny Mr. Ross spends to send her there). Of course tomatoes are an annual here and even if you could over winter them, the likely hood of survival and then good production the next year is doubtful.
The National Gardening Bureau has proclaimed this year the Year of the Tomato. They have also selected the Zinnia as the Annual of the Year and next year will also honor a perennial.

Tomatoes can be classified in several ways, including by size and shape of fruit, growth habit, color, days to maturity, etc. Everybody has an opinion on which is best, but it really depends on how you are going to use it, to determine what tomato is best for you. There are plenty of hybrids and heirlooms to pick from so you shouldn’t have a problem finding one that suits your needs.
Tomatoes in a mixed container

Tomatoes range in size from grape, cherry, plum, standard and beefsteak. They can be red, orange, yellow, green, almost black and even striped. One important factor in determining what variety to grow is its growth habit. I always grow mine in a big whiskey barrel so I usually pick a “determinate” variety. This type of tomato grows to a genetically predetermined height and bears most of its fruit at the same time. This is a good thing if you do any type of canning or preserving of tomatoes. Determinate tomatoes tend to be more compact, which makes them perfect for containers. Some of them are so compact they can even be planted in hanging baskets! Indeterminate types continue to grow and produce fruit over the entire season. They can get quite large and need staking or a tomato cage to hold them up.
There are a bazillion
tomato varieties

One question we always get at Countryside is about the days to maturity and what this actually means. Tomatoes are classified as early, mid-season and late. Days to maturity are the average days from the time the plant is transplanted into the garden until the first fruit ripens. Since it is an average, it really should be used as a guide not gospel. Generally speaking early tomatoes will ripen in fewer than 70 days, mid-season from 70-80 days and late tomatoes will require over 80 days from date of planting outdoors.

We always have a great selection of all types of tomatoes and I am sure we can find one that will suit your needs.  Click here to see all the varieties we will have this year.

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