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Indeterminate vs. Determinate Tomatoes - Which One Is Right for Your Garden?

Do you buy typically baby tomato plants at your local nursery, to grow in your NJ garden? If so, then you may have noticed the terms "determinate" and "indeterminate" listed on the labels of your plants. What does this mean, exactly? Should you select one type versus the other, when planting tomatoes?
Sometimes a direct comparison is the best way to understand terminology such as this.

Determinate tomatoes yield fruit all at once. So basically, you're waiting and waiting for your determinate plants to bear fruit, and then they do, and it's one windfall harvest. And then, just as suddenly as your tomato plant made ripe tomatoes... it's over.

Because of this, if you're going to stick with determinate tomato plants, you may want to plant several different varieties that are listed as bearing fruit at different points in the season. Check the label of your tomato plants for the number of days that the plant will take to mature. Some take 60 days; others; 80 and so forth. Also check the label of each plant for the words "indeterminate," with the abbreviations "IND" or "INDET."

Another fact about determinate tomatoes: they don't spread out when they grow. Determinates are often referred to as "bush" tomatoes. If you're gardening in a small space, then this type of tomato plant may be the preferred choice for you.

That said, a lack of space in your yard needn't deprive your tomato fancy. If you plan out your tomato gardening right, you can have several different determinate varieties bearing fruit over the full course of the summer.

Indeterminate tomato plants bear fruit over the course of an entire season. This may sound ideal at first, but the crowding factor may not make it worth it if planting in a small garden. We've made the mistake of planting indeterminate varieties of tomatoes in our rather compact, raised beds. As we learned the hard way, these types of tomatoes really need plenty of room to spread, and will crowd and shade out neighboring plants, such as basil, that you might have hoped to enjoy along with the tomatoes.

Indeterminate tomatoes tend to fill a rather large space. They wind their vines around the nearest tall object, including other plants. For this reason, they require stronger stakes, cages or other types of support, such as fencing. If you have a plenty of property on which to dig expansive garden plots, then indeterminate tomato plants may be a fine idea for an enthusiastic and experimental tomato farmer such as yourself.

To sum up what we've learned:

Determinate tomatoes yield their crop of fruit all at once. The plants tend to remain compact, and grow to a small "bush" size. They're the better choice for smaller garden plots, raised bed gardens, and container gardening. If you want to enjoy tomatoes all summer but don't have a lot of space, select a few different determinate varieties that will mature of the course of the summer.

Indeterminate tomato plants bear fruit several times over the course of the growing season. The plants send out large, heavy vines, and fill the space around them. If you plan to be home for most of the summer, and have lots of land on which to garden, you can have your fill of tomatoes this summer by selecting indeterminate varieties of plants.

An experimental gardener who happens to have a bit more yard to play in might enjoy planting several different types of tomatoes - some, determinate, and others, indeterminate. This way, you can compare different types of tomatoes for taste, use in sauce versus salads, time that it takes to ripen, hardiness, disease resistance, and other factors.

Indeed, when it comes to tomatoes, you may find the best solution is to incorporate both determinate and indeterminate varieties into your garden so you can experience the best of both worlds.

Gardening is easy... and it's also complicated. To become a pro, why not check out our Complete Beginner's E-Guide to Organic Gardening in NJ Zone 6. Now available in ebook format only, available for instant download via PayPal payment.

 


GardenBedsNJ.com is owned by Mike Hyde and 4 Seasons Lawn Care. We build, deliver and install raised garden beds to Hunterdon and Warren Counties in NJ and Northampton County, PA.

Contact us for more information: 908 783 5733 or email mikehyde@4seasonslawns.com today!

 

 

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