How to pick the right tomato plant

With a plethora of tomato varieties to choose from to grow at home, how do you pick the right tomato? Here’s a few questions to ask yourself when trying to decide the best varieties to grow.

What do you want to use your tomatoes for? Fresh eating? Canning? Salsa making?

Cherry tomatoes are great for fresh eating and using on salads.

(We grow many cherry tomato varieties including Tumbler, Sweet Million, Red Robin and more).

Paste tomatoes are best for making sauces, they’re less juicy and more “meaty”. They’re also great to add into salsas with other types of tomatoes to help bulk up a recipe

(We grow Roma).

Medium size tomatoes are often ready earlier and are great for salsa making and for fresh eating. They’re juicy but because they’re smaller (typically 6-8oz) they tend to be a little less watery than beefsteak tomatoes.

(We grow Sub-Arctic Maxi, Early Girl, Celebrity and more).

Beefsteak tomatoes are those large and juicy tomatoes that are used fresh on sandwiches and can be used in salsa or juice for homemade canned tomato juice.

(We grow Ball’s Beefsteak, Big Beef, Mortgage Lifter, Chef’s Choice Orange and more).

How much space do you have in your garden? Are you willing to prune your tomato plants?

There are two different types of tomatoes, vining (indeterminant) and bush (determinate). 

Depending on how much space you have in your garden and/or if you’re growing tomatoes in a planter you can choose accordingly.

Indeterminate tomatoes take up less space because they grow like a vine. Determinate tomatoes can take more space because they grow like a bush. However, there are lovely small bush type cherry tomatoes that are perfect for container growing.

It’s super important to know that you don’t prune determinate tomatoes and you do prune indeterminate tomatoes.

To stake or not to stake? 

Without a doubt, you’ll have to stake vining tomatoes (indeterminate) but this is where you can get really creative and make your staking look like a piece of art in your garden. Use bamboo sticks and create an obelisk to tie your tomatoes too, or use strings in a large wooden frame to create a privacy screen. Be creative with the way you stake your tomatoes.

Regardless of if you’re growing a vining tomato or bush type, if the branches get too heavy with fruit, you’ll want to stake your plants so the branches don’t break.

How do you know when you’re at a garden centre if you’re looking at a vining type or bush type tomato and if it’s a cherry, paste, medium, or beefsteak variety?

The first thing to do is refer to the signage that’s usually with the tomatoes. Typically at a greenhouse, the signage will tell you if the tomato variety is determinate or indeterminate, and what type of tomato you’re looking at.

Secondly, the tags in the pot with the tomato will give you a ton of information including 1) the variety of tomato 2) the size of the fruit it will produce 3) how big the plant will grow, 4) how many days it takes to grow it 5) the type of light it needs 6) how much water it needs 7) if it’s suitable for to grow in a container.

And if you can’t find the information on signs or on the tag, search the variety using the exact name on the tag online and you’ll be able to read all about it!

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    • Yes, we grow the Rainbow Mix tomatoes, a mix of heirloom varieties. But we also grow Black Krim and Mortgage Lifter individually which is in the Rainbow Mix.