Growing Tomatoes

Written by Sarah Provost
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Tomatoes are by far the most popular plant for the home garden. There is no other type of produce which offers such a startling contrast in flavor between "home grown" and "store bought." And as long as you have adequate sun, tomatoes are easy to grow.

Determinate and Indeterminate Varieties

No matter what their size, shape or color, all tomatoes fall into two categories. Indeterminate types grow on vines that can reach six feet or more. They provide a continuing harvest right up until frost. Determinate plants are bushier, though they may still need stakes or cages. Determinate varieties ripen a heavier crop over a shorter period, usually three to four weeks.

Within those two categories, there are many variations. Cherry tomatoes range from tiny fruits the size of currents to those the size of a ping-pong ball. Plum tomatoes are the best choice for making sauce. Slicing and beefsteak varieties are best for those who want a slice big enough to cover a whole sandwich!

Cherry and the smaller slicing tomatoes come in yellow and orange varieties as well as red. Their flavor is exquisite, and they add great interest to salsas and salads. Heirloom varieties are becoming increasingly popular, and can have shades of maroon and purple.

Plant tomatoes when the soil has warmed and all danger of frost is past. Red or black plastic mulch will help keep the soil warm and prevent weeds. Tomatoes are heavy feeders, so give them plenty of fertilizer. Many brands of fertilizer are especially formulated for tomatoes.

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