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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Gonzales

Tomato Terminology

The first thing you will need to know when it comes to tomato terminology is the two types of classifications: determinate and indeterminate. Tomatoes classified as determinate will grow to a determined size, whereas indeterminate tomatoes don't have a determined size. These tomatoes can climb over fences or sprawl across the rest of the garden if you don't keep them under control.

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Determinate Tomatoes

You may have also heard the term "bush tomatoes" used to describe determinate tomatoes. These tomatoes can grow up to 36 inches. Semi-determinate tomatoes tend to get a little larger, usually between 3-5 feet tall. These varieties also tend to produce an abundance of fruit at one time, however, once the main crop is finished, the plants are done and will not produce more fruit in the future.

Your usual tomato cage will work for both determinate and semi-determinate tomatoes, along with containers that are at least 5 gallons. However, 7-10 gallons would be better if you have the option.

Dwarf-determinate varieties are perfect for patio gardens and will only get about 2 feet tall. These can grow in smaller pots as well as hanging baskets. Keep in mind that these varieties tend to not produce much fruit and are short-lived compared to the other varieties.

Indeterminate Tomatoes

Most of your Cherry Tomatoes are classified as indeterminate. It's easy to think that small-fruited tomatoes like Cherry Tomatoes will grow well in small pots, however, this is not the case. This is where understanding the different classifications will be a vital tool when planning your garden.

Being sure to stay on top of your pruning and using structures such as stronger, heavy-duty cages is vital to keeping these varieties under control.

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Tomato Terms

Getting familiar with and knowing the terms used in the world of tomato gardening is a must in my book! Especially if you are trying to expand your gardening knowledge and skills. This will also be a very valuable tool when ordering from seed catalogs.

Beefsteak: This is a large tomato with thick, solid flesh and small seed cavities.

Blossom End Rot: This is when you have brown areas towards the bottom of your tomatoes due to poor calcium uptake which can be caused by inconsistent watering.

Catfacing: This is when misshapen fruit occurs due to incomplete pollination, cool weather when the fruit is setting, or the use of herbicides.

Cherry: This should be a familiar term and the most common type of tomato. These are small fruiting tomatoes that are typically classified as indeterminate. When not properly taken care of, these tomatoes can grow wildly. They set fruit in warmer climates than those of the larger fruit and produce a large number of blooms.

Cracking: This is when deep breaks in the skin occur caused by irregular watering.

Heirlooms: These are a type of tomato. They generally have less disease resistance and thinner skin. However, they have the best flavor, and texture, and come in a variety of colors! These do not store or transplant well, so they are perfect for those smaller gardens.

Paste: These tomatoes are great for drying, preserving, and making sauces. They tend to have thick, meaty flesh and smaller seed cavities.

Slicing or Salad Tomatoes: These tomatoes are medium-sized fruits. One of the most common types of these tomatoes is Celebrity. They generally produce well and have a shorter period until they are ready to harvest compared to the beefsteak types.

Sunscald: This is a disease that produces a white or yellowish patch that may appear on the side of the plant that is most exposed to the sun. Poor foliage cover for the fruit is the common factor with this disease.

Tomato Types

Determinate or Semi-Determinate

Better Boy Better Beefsteak Better Bush Bush Champion Bush Celebrity Bush Early Girl Bush Goliath Corona PS Early Wonder Homestead Tycoon


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