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When a gardener asks me what tomato plant they should grow, I get giddy. It is a dating game.  You are spending the next 8 months with this plant you need to choose well.  You will have expectations and desires. Here are the questions I ask to make the best match possible.

Here is how I help people decide, I ask questions.   The first is maybe the most important: 

How do you want to eat your tomatoes?

This sounds like an obvious question but I get a lot of different answers when I ask it.   Some people want to make sauce, some people want to pick a tomato daily for sandwiches, some people want it for their kids to eat, like candy.   All three of these would lead me to different types of tomatoes

The first a sauce tomato, the second an heirloom or slicer, and the third a cherry tomato.

Where are they going to live?

If you living with them inside or on a deck, in a pot or if you have a small garden and like to have lots of plants join you, you don’t want them crowding your style. You want to look for compact varieties – we have several that span all the categories, from determinate and dwarf cherry, to semi determinate slicers & early to sauce. (Determinate beefsteak is harder to come by).

If you have so much space and welcome them bringing their whole self into your life, and you are even willing to renovate for them – we have those two, they are the indeterminate and vining.

Next we need to know:

How high maintenance you want your plant to be?  

Do you want to set it and forget it?   Do you have time to prune in trade off for yield?  

This tells me if you want a Determinate (Bush) variety or an Indeterminate (Vining)  


They are bushy and “self” prune, since they can’t grow foliage from it’s flower clusters.  They tend to stay smaller and more compact compared to Indeterminate plants (vining) types.   They also tend to produce for a finite amount of time.   Now, generally a home gardener, in the Comox Valley, is not going to see a dramatic difference in production since our growing season is shorter relative to more southern climates.    The catch with determinate plants is that they tend to produce most of the fruit at the same time (so over a number of weeks but then they are done)

Indeterminate:  These plants can produce and produce as long as the conditions are met.  Ideally they need support to grow, something like a trellis or a cage as they vine upwards.  You will also need to prune off the suckers, which is vital to tell the plant to put the energy into fruiting.  Indeterminate plants  can start yielding and continue until the light is too low & there is not enough heat.   So a home gardener with a good cold frame can go long into fall with enough care and attention.

Okay so we now know what kind of plant you want, now we can play around with variety.  And that is where it gets super fun!   You have answered your questions, you know how to narrow it down and now it’s all about attraction!! Go shopping

Whitaker Farm chooses varieties that will taste good, scratch the unique itch and be fun to have around.   So enjoy looking around!  Happy gardening 

Look for more tips here on planting, pruning, & feeding of your plants

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