Tomato Resource Guide
Originating in South-Central America, there is evidence that tomatoes were used in Aztec cuisine as far back as 700 BC. Today, tomatoes are the most consumed fruit on the planet with China producing 33% of the world’s crop.
There are two different types of tomatoes – determinate and indeterminate.
Determinate, or bush tomato, varieties stop growing when they are around 3-4 feet tall. When the flowers blossom at the tips of the branches, the plant has stopped growing in height. All the fruit will ripen at around the same time. This type is good for canning when you need lots of tomatoes at once.
Indeterminate tomatoes will grow until they are hit by frost. They will produce fruit throughout the season. Depending on the variety they may grow as tall as 6 meters if left unchecked. Although there are two different types of tomatoes, there are thousands of different varieties of tomatoes: plum, cherry, grape, beefsteak, and heirloom to name a few categories of the varieties that are available.
How to Grow Tomatoes
- Full sun – tomatoes need full sun to thrive
- Plant after the last frost date – usually around the May long weekend
- Use starter plants or start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost date
- Plant deeply – right up to first set of leaves
- Provide support – cages or poles with ties
- Prune regularly – see below for details. Only indeterminate varieties need pruning
- Keep soil evenly moist – the soil should feel like a wrung out sponge
- Add compost or aged manure around the plants to add nutrients to the soil
How to prune tomatoes
Indeterminate tomato varieties need regular pruning to limit diseases, insect damage and for better tasting tomatoes.
- Two – three weeks after planting, remove all leaves that are touching the soil, are diseased or are yellow in colour
- Keep a single stem – think tree not shrub when it comes to tomato plants
- Pinch the suckers that grow between the stems (pictured below). If the sucker is thicker than a pencil use the Missouri method as pictured. The Missouri method protects the plant from diseases since open wounds are often an entry point for bugs and bacteria.