Q: What is the determinate type of tomatoes?
Q: My friend grows wonderful tomatoes so I decided I would try it. He told me to get the determinate type for my small back yard. I was too embarrassed to ask him what he meant. Can you tell me?
A: Determinate tomatoes are the smaller bush type which generally only grow to about 4 feet tall and can easily fit in the small support cages sold at most garden centers. The most common variety of determinate tomato is ‘Celebrity’ which is a nice, medium sized tomato. Your friend was probably thinking since the determinate tomato would take less space it might be easier for you to work with as a beginning gardener.
Indeterminate tomatoes are the true vine types which under proper conditions (warm weather) can continue to grow, flower and produce fruit until the first cool weather appears. Indeterminate tomatoes may reach 10 feet or more in length, if conditions are perfect. You would need plenty of room to grow this type of tomato and provide ways to stake the heavy vines. Large support cages are available but they may not be sufficient if you do not prune and pinch sucker formation.
You could also plant determinate tomatoes in the late summer and possibly have a supply of fall tomatoes too. I have done this and some years are more successful than others. But no matter which one of the tomato types you choose, nothing tastes as good as a home grown tomato – you will not be sorry you made the effort.