How to Pick the Right Tomato Variety for Your Garden

Deciding the Right Type of Tomato

Tomatoes are the most popular vegetables you will find in a home garden. They are versatile vegetables that provide food at home with so much flavour and health benefits. There are so many varieties of tomatoes that you can choose from when you decide to cultivate some in your home garden. From red, yellow, orange or even purple colour, you may find preference in those as tiny as a dime to a size so big that even one slice can cover a whole sandwich! You can find them in juicy varieties as well as dense and pulpy type. In total there are about 700 different tomato varieties being cultivated today.

The type of tomato you choose for your home garden should depend on several factors. You will need to take into consideration the disease resistance, growth habit, time to maturity and fruit characteristics (what you want the tomatoes for).

Disease Resistance

Tomatoes are vulnerable plants that can succumb to diseases that can reduce your yield. Two of the most common soil-borne diseases that affect tomatoes are verticillium and fusarium wilt. Before you purchase the seeds (if you are a first time tomato planters), find out from the packaging how resistant the variant is towards these two diseases. This is indicated by a V or F on the packaging, denoting resistance to these diseases. Also look out for Foot-knot nematode (N), Tobacco Mosaic virus (T) or Alternaria (A) resistance.

Growth habit

There are growth habits in tomatoes; each variety will have only one of the two. You will find the determinate (bush) varieties that grow to about 2-3 ft in height and indeterminate (vine) varieties that keep growing taller and taller. Determinate is of course more suitable if you do not have a lot of growing space or if you plan on growing your tomato in a container. These are also cold climate varieties, yielding crop within a few weeks. If you have space and prefer to take your time and spread your tomato yield over several months then an indeterminate variety would be your choice. Note though that you will need to build sturdy support for the indeterminate type as they are vine type plants.

Time to maturity

If you live in a place that has a short growing season then you will need to pick a variety that will provide you with yield quick enough. Tomatoes do not survive cold weather so you may want to consider having a variety that will bear fruits sooner for you to harvest. For example: Whippersnappers (indeterminate) are cherry tomatoes that take up to 52 days to maturity. They are suitable for hanging baskets and containers.

Fruit characteristics

This is dependant on your own desire on what you want to use the tomatoes for. Whether it is for salads, sauces, sandwiches and just to eat raw as a snack, you can select from a wide variety of tomatoes based on their suitability to your home usage.

Types of Tomatoes

There are various types of tomatoes that you can choose from. These include:

Image credit: Flickr

Cherry Tomato

  • Indeterminate variety that is easy to grow, and are perfect snacks for kids.
  • Commonly used in salads, vegetable trays with dip, and kebabs.
  • Maturity in 45 to 88 days depending on variety

Image credit: Flickr

Grape Tomato

  • Similar to cherry tomatoes, they are small and bite-sized and are sweeter and tastier.
  • They ripen in 70 days depending on weather which can affect fruit development and growth.
  • Optimal fruit set temperature between 55 to 90 degrees Farenheit.

Image credit: Flickr

Main Crop

The common variety you will find in most home gardens. They mature from early to mid-season, are big, round and meaty.

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Plum or Roma

  • Also called paste tomatoes, these are small and plum with a pointed bottom.
  • Mainly used to make paste, sauces, canning, and ketchup as they are less juicy and sweet.
  • Maturity in 75 days

Image credit: Berrucomons/


  • Indeterminate variety. Big in both size and taste. They take longer to mature.
  • 78 days to maturity
  • used in sandwiches (as one slice can cover the whole sandwich)

Image credit: Golden Harvest

Long Keepers

  • semi-determinate plant
  • Small, yellowish orange in color and as their name suggests, they can be stored in a cool, dark place for several months.
  • 78 days to maturity
  • The fruits ripen within 1-1/2 to 3 months after harvest depending on conditions.
  • They are harvested before frost and allowed to ripen at room temperature.
  • Avoid touching the fruits with one another when in storage at room temperature; use fruit separators in apple boxes.

Tomatoes are a very popular choice for the home garden. Cultivating your own tomatoes not only helps you reduce cost in food expenditure, it provides you with health benefits that is un-surpassed as you know what goes into your tomato.

More Reading:

Top Terrific Tomato Tips:

Growing Killer Tomatoes

Growing Tomatoes

Giovannucci (1995) pp. 1767–76

Qualified Health Claims: Letter Regarding Tomatoes and Prostate Cancer (Lycopene Heath Claim Coalition)(Docket No. 2004Q-0201) US FDA/CFSAN November 2005

Cheery Tomato Varieties: