Tomatoes are a gift of the New World to the entire world. While at one time it was only known to the Nahuatl people of Central America, today it is one of the most commonly grown and eaten crops. Just imagine what Italian cuisine was like for all those years without the humble types of tomatos.
How to Identify Tomatoes
Tomatoes come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors but they typically resemble what a tomato should look like. They are spherical, they grow on vines, they produce seeds, and they have a smell that is earthy and green. These are the undeniable attributes of a tomato.
Popular Types & Varieties
With over 10,000 cultivars of tomatoes, it is difficult to focus on every single variety grown. For the sake of organization and simplicity, we will look at three different types of tomatoes and several of the tomato varieties contained within each tomato type.
This type of tomato is recognized for its bite-size proportions, sweet flavor, and versatility in recipes. Cherry tomatoes come in a variety of colors which include purple, green, orange, pink, yellow, white, and red. Not only are cherry tomatoes delicious and beautiful, but they are also the perfect type of tomato to grow in containers or small garden spaces.
Several popular tomato varieties that are categorized as a type of cherry tomato are:
This variety of tomato features a sweet flavor in a bite-size package. They are perfect to use in pizza sauce and salsa. This indeterminate tomato plant will produce 1-inch fruits.
This variety of tomato is a hybrid of Black Cherry, and consequently is also ideally designed for use in pasta sauces. This indeterminate tomato plant will produce 1-inch fruits.
This variety of tomato is oblong-shaped and has the faintest pink and orange coloring. This semi-determinate tomato plant will produce fruits that measure between 2 and 3 inches in length.
Sweetheart of the Patio
This variety of tomato is a hybrid plant that has the ability to tolerate late blight. This semi-determinate tomato plant will produce 1-inch fruits.
This variety of tomato is ideally sized for growing in tomato planters. This indeterminate tomato plant is also an heirloom tomato that will produce fruits that weigh approximately 4 ounces.
This variety of tomato actually looks like a yellow pear. It is a mildly sweet flavored tomato that is lovely to eat raw or grilled. This indeterminate tomato plant is also an heirloom tomato that will produce fruits that measure between 1 and 2 inches.
This type of tomato holds the most natural and authentic tomato varieties. These tomatoes are the most reminiscent of by-gone days when taste and nutrition were the primary goals of growing crops. Just because this type of tomato promotes growing more nutritious and flavorful crops, it does not mean that they are all automatically organic. Some heirloom tomatoes are grown as an organic crop, while others are not; there is no set standard.
Several popular tomato varieties that are categorized as a type of heirloom tomato are:
This is a popular tomato eaten for breakfast in the UK. It is an indeterminate tomato plant that produces fruits weighing between 2 and 6 ounces.
This variety was created by the Amish of Wisconsin and is an ideal tomato to use in canning or in tasty sauces. It is an indeterminate tomato plant that produces fruits weighing between 6 and 8 ounces.
Aunt Ruby’s German Green
This variety hails from Germany and is a brilliant green color. It is an indeterminate tomato plant that produces fruits weighing between 12 and 16 ounces.
This variety stands out from many other tomatoes since it is a yellow tomato. It is an indeterminate tomato plant that produces large fruits.
This variety is also categorized as a Cherry Tomato due to its size. It is considered deliciously sweet, and therefore, they are a perfect snacking tomato.
This tomato variety grows well in planters if they are carefully pruned. It is an indeterminate tomato plant that produces fruits weighing 4 ounces.
This tomato variety became a popular canning tomato in the early twentieth century. It is an indeterminate tomato plant that produces fruits weighing between 2 and 10 ounces.
It was the people of the Cherokee nation that produced this highly flavorful tomato variety. It is an indeterminate tomato plant that produces fruits weighing between 12 and 16 ounces.
This Italian favorite is an excellent choice to use in cooking or in preserving. It is an indeterminate tomato plant that produces fruits weighing between 6 and 8 ounces.
This variety was created in northern Greece in 1958. It is an indeterminate tomato plant that produces fruits weighing between 6 and 12 ounces.
This type of tomato features a meaty texture, little moisture content, bold and tangy flavor, and few seeds. Roma tomatoes are ideally suited for creating pasta sauces.
Several popular tomato varieties that are categorized as a type of Roma tomato are:
10 Fingers of Naples
Here is a variety of tomato that is native to Naples, and therefore, an excellent choice to use in a Neapolitan pizza sauce. It is a semi-indeterminate plant that produces fruits measuring between 4 and 5 inches long.
This tomato variety is a familiar condiment at cookouts. It is an indeterminate plant that produces fruits weighing 16 ounces.
This tomato variety is resistant to powdery mildew, nematodes, and mosaic virus. It is an indeterminate plant that produces fruits weighing between 4 and 5 ounces.
This tomato variety is recognized for its tiny and compact size and fruits weighing between 2 and 3 ounces.
This tomato variety has a great deal of resistance to late blight. Plus, it is a delicious option to use in Italian sauces. It is a determinate plant that produces fruits weighing 4 ounces.
This tomato variety is thin and long. It has a strong sweet flavor and few seeds, which makes it ideal for use in sauces. It is a determinate plant that produces fruits weighing just under 4 ounces.
This tomato variety is tiny, orange, and ideal for Italian recipes. It is a determinate plant that produces fruits weighing between 3 and 4 ounces.
Tomato Care Requirements
Tomatoes are fairly easy to care for once you know what they need. Let’s learn a little more about how to properly grow a tomato plant.
Best Tomato Fertilizer
Tomatoes should be fertilized with a slow-releasing organic fertilizer just after they are planted. They should also be fed with an organic fertilizer in liquid form every few weeks.
Tomato Soil Requirements
Tomatoes require well-draining soil that contains compost. Fox Farm Potting Soil is an excellent and organic choice for potting soil.
Tomato Light Requirements
Tomatoes require at least 4 hours of full sun each day.
Tomato Water Requirements
Tomatoes should be watered thoroughly when the top two inches of their soil is dry. They should be watered before they begin to wilt.
Best Tomato Companion Plantings
Setting tomatoes next to other types of plants can improve their growth and their health. Here is a selection of companion plantings that tomatoes love:
This plant attracts beneficial insects that keep away harmful insects.
This herb is repulsive to certain pests and it helps tomatoes grow and taste better.
This plant is repulsive to red spider mites and it can possibly ward off late blight.
In this case, it is the tomato plant that benefits the rose plant by protecting it from black spot.
Common Pests and Diseases
Tomatoes are not a disease and pest-resistant plant; in fact, they are highly susceptible to attacks and infestations. When growing tomatoes, it is best to be on the lookout for possible problems so they can be prevented or dealt with before they kill the plant. Here are just a few of the most common problems faced by tomato plants:
This type of infestation shows up in the form of tiny insects that live in clusters on plant stems and leaves.
This type of disease is very difficult to control. It is best to treat infected plants quickly or learn how to prevent the blight from occurring in the first place.
Corky Root Rot
This type of fungus grows on the plant’s roots and looks like brown lesions. It will also cause the plant’s roots to look like cork and the plant’s growth to be stunted. It will eventually kill the plant.
This type of virus causes the plant’s leaves to roll upwards in a curling shape and become stiff and rigid.
This is a caterpillar that will eat straight through a plant stem if not stopped.
This type of insect jumps and even looks similar to a flea. It enjoys consuming many types of crops, not just tomatoes.
This type of fungus causes leaves to grow irregularly and stems to grow oval lesions on them. It will also look like fluffy and gray spores spreading over the plant.
These are large green caterpillars that love munching on leaves, fruits, and vegetables.
There are around 20,000 different species of nematode identified. Most of these are microscopic and very difficult to notice until the plant is already under stress.
This type of mildew grows on plants during warm and dry weather. It looks like a powder cover leaves and will eventually turn the leaves yellow until they shrivel, dry up, and die altogether.
This type of insect is tiny and enjoys drinking plant juice. They leave behind honeydew after visiting and munching on a plant.
Treatments and Maintenance
Tomato plants should be treated as soon as a problem is identified. If possible, preventative treatments should be taken so that there is not a chance of pests or diseases damaging a tomato plant. Here are a few treatments that can be used to deal with common problems faced by tomato plants:
Planting tomatoes far enough apart from other plants will provide them with more air movement that will allow their leaves to dry. This, in turn, could help eliminate fungal growth.
Adding these to a garden can eliminate nematodes that destroy crops.
Applying a fungicide can slow the growth of blight and grey mold.
Applying this type of oil to plants can eliminate whitefly infestations.
This type of soap can help to eliminate infestations of whiteflies.
Applying insecticides can help deal with aphids and flea beetles.
A weekly application of this oil will help to deal with the curly top virus.
Applying this to plants can reduce the infestation of cutworms.
Proper Watering Methods
Learning to water a plant properly can reduce the chance of a fungal infection.
Applying this to plants can reduce the infestation of cutworms.
This may help reduce corky root rot.
This may reduce infestations of harmful nematodes.
Yellow Sticky Traps
These traps can be used to catch adult whiteflies and flea beetles.
• Determinate tomatoes do not require that their suckers be pruned or removed, while indeterminate tomatoes grow better when their suckers are removed.
• Determinate tomatoes grow to a determined and fixed size, while indeterminate tomatoes continue vining throughout their growing season.
• Determinate tomatoes produce mature fruit in a few weeks’ time, while indeterminate tomatoes continue to produce fruit throughout their growing season.
• Determinate tomatoes remain small and compact, while indeterminate tomatoes continue growing until they are killed off by frost.
Answer: Tomatoes are considered a fruit botanically but are considered a vegetable by nutritionists and culinary professionals. So, they are actually both a fruit and a vegetable at the same time.
• Purchase seeds from a reputable seller
• Fill planters with a seed starter mix
• Moisten the seed starter mix
• Set two or three tomato seeds ¼ of an inch deep in the mix
• Cover the seeds with the mix
• Moisten the top of the mix (it does not need to be soaked)
• Set the planter in a warm area
• Cover the planter with plastic to hold in moisture
• Keep the mix moist
• Once sprouts appear, remove the plastic and set the planter in a warm and sunny spot
Answer: Tomatoes grow well in zones 5 through 8.
Tomatoes are the quintessential item to grow and to eat. Now that you have learned a little more about the types and varieties of tomatoes that are available, I hope you will be inspired to try a new type of tomato and even a new recipe.