[Tomato Dirt] Your Guide for Choosing Tomato Season for the Upcoming Season
December 13, 2013
Tomato Dirt Newsletter Volume 3, Number 19
Dear Tomato Dirt reader,
Welcome back to Tomato Dirt! Once or twice a month, we’ll send you this newsletter packed with tips about growing tomatoes and using them.
NOW THROUGH JANUARY 6
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Feature: Your Guide for Choosing Tomato Seeds for Next Season
Seed catalogs are out and there are thousands of tomato varieties to choose from. As you look forward to digging in the dirt, now is the perfect time to plan what kinds of tomatoes to plant in your garden next year. Use this checklist to help you decide.
Your garden type. Will you grow tomatoes in a garden plot or containers? Outdoors or indoors? Specific varieties work best for each of those environments.
Your purpose. Decide how you want to use tomatoes to help you decide what varieties to grow. Do you want a steady supply for slicing, sandwiches, and snacking? If so, choose indeterminate globes, beefsteaks, and cherry tomatoes. Or maybe you want to can and dry tomatoes. Determinates (those that produce their fruit in a short period) and less juicy types allow you to harvest most of a crop at one time and process them. Perhaps you like to make the family tomato sauce recipe, in which case you need to grow large amounts of paste tomatoes.
Your season length. Among the thousands of tomato varieties are those that grow in a short season (fewer than 65 days to maturity or less), mid-season (65-79 days to maturity) or late season (80 days to maturity or more). If you live in a northern area, you may need to grow short season or mid-season varieties in order to harvest a strong crop before frost. Or perhaps you wish to grow plants with various maturity dates so you can enjoy fresh tomatoes throughout the season.
Your growing conditions. Some varieties flourish in hot, humid climate; some produce well in colder areas; still others are blight-resistant. Know the growing conditions your tomatoes will face and select varieties that will cooperate well.
Your previous garden. If you’ve grown tomatoes last year or other times in the past, go back and look at your notes. Which varieties worked well, stayed healthy, and produced? Which were a struggle? This information will help you decide which varieties you want to grow again and which to avoid.
Federal standards require 75% germination rate for commercially-produced seeds. If properly stored, tomato seeds can last up to 10 years with a germination rate of 50%. If used within 4-7 years, the germination rate will be even better. If you don’t use all the seeds you purchase now, save them in a cool, dry spot to use again next year.