You say, 'Tomato,' I say, 'Which tomato?'
According to the National Gardening Association, the No.1 vegetable grown by home gardeners in America is the familiar tomato. It’s the fruit for which Burpee is the most famous, and it’s the most popular fruit not just in America but in the world, with 60 million tons produced every year. That’s a lot of tomatoes.
So there are tons of tomatoes, and you know what else? There are tons of varieties, too. Thousands, actually, from tiny cherry tomatoes to gigantic ones that can weigh more than three pounds. What’s a gardener to do?
At Burpee Home Gardens, we’ve tried to take a lot of the guesswork out of choosing tomatoes by offering a solid selection of the best-of-the-best varieties out there, including reliable favorites as well as cool, new, unique ones, and we created this handy chart to spell out how to use each one.
In a nutshell, though (or a tomato skin?), here are two simple ways to approach choosing the tomato that’s right for you:
Think about what you want to make. Perhaps you want tomatoes for canning, or you make awesome spaghetti sauce, or you are famous for your homemade salsa, or you just want big slices of tomatoes for sandwiches. (Man, you can do a lot of stuff with tomatoes!) Start at the end, so to speak, and work backward to pick the right type of tomato for the job.
Think about where you’re gardening. If you’ve got space for an in-ground garden and some really nifty stakes or tomato cages, you could go with “indeterminate” tomatoes, which flower, set fruit, and ripen all at the same time. This means your plant will produce fruit for a long time – oftentimes up till frost – but will also grow very long vines that need support. If you’re a container veggie gardener (like me), you’ll want “determinate” tomatoes, which tend to grow shorter and bushier. The fruit ripens in a shorter window, so you’ll be picking lots of tomatoes all at once.
As for me, I grow tomatoes mostly for salsa – my family eats a lot of it in the summer! What about you – why do you grow tomatoes, and which one’s your favorite?