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[Tomato Dirt] Determinate and Indeterminate: Another Way to Classify Tomatoes
February 06, 2013

Tomato Dirt Newsletter
Volume 3, Number 3

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.

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Feature: Determinate or Indeterminate Tomatoes: Understanding the Difference

How Tomatoes Are Classified, Part 2

There are at least 3 different (and simple) ways gardeners classify tomato varieties. These classifications help you know which tomatoes are best for your garden and your situation.

This second article of three explains the way tomatoes are classified according to the length of time they produce fruit during the season. (In the last issue, we talked about classifying tomatoes according to their genetic line: hybrid tomatoes vs. heirloom tomatoes. Read it here.)

A determinate tomato plant produces fruit for a couple of weeks and then production fades out. That’s because it eventually forms a flower cluster at the terminal growing point, which causes it to stop growing in height.

An indeterminate tomato plant produces fruit throughout the season, often until frost. It never sets terminal flower clusters, but only lateral ones, and continues indefinitely to grow taller.

Advantages to determinate tomatoes

  • Determinates are a good choice for small gardeners because they grow to a predetermined size and then stop.
  • Determinates grow well in containers.
  • Determinate tomatoes set the bulk of their crop at one time, a distinct advantage if you plan to can tomatoes or make batches of tomato sauce.
  • Determinates don’t require a lot of pruning. In fact, it’s best if you avoid pruning tomato determinate varieties or pinch back only suckers that appear below the first flower cluster, or you will reduce your yield.

Advantages to indeterminate tomatoes

  • Indeterminate tomatoes produce fruit all summer.
  • Indeterminates offer a greater selection when it comes to color, size, and shape.
  • Indeterminates continue to grow and set fruit until frost.

Read more about the ways tomatoes are classified so that you can make the best choices for your garden …

In our next issue of Tomato Dirt, we'll tell you about classification by fruit shape.


What Other Tomato Gardeners Are Reading

Here were the five most popular pages on Tomato Dirt during the month of January (after the home page, of course.)

Check them out!

Blossom End Rot: How to identify, treat, and prevent it

How to grow indoor tomatoes

Pruning tomato plants: how and when to do it

When to start tomato seeds

Tomato grow lights explained


More on Choosing Tomato Varieties ...

How to Understand Ways Tomato Varieties Classified Understanding the Difference Between Heirlooms and Hybrids Most Popular Tomato Varieties Where to Buy Tomato Seeds Online

That’s it for now. More next time!

Until then, happy gardening!

Kathy with Tomato Dirt
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