Growing Tomatoes – Which Varieties To Grow?

There are a bewildering amount of tomato seeds on the market in all sorts of shapes and sizes. There are tiny tumbling tomatoes no larger than your fingernail, sweet cherry tomatoes, meaty paste tomatoes, juicy salad tomatoes, and the giant beefsteak tomatoes. Not only do you have this choice, but there are lots of different colors available too, not just the commonly found red tomatoes! Now you can buy tomato plants that produce fruit ranging in color from orange to yellow, green, purple, chocolate, black and deep crimson.

Tomato Seeds

Ready to plant some tomato seeds

With over 3,000 varieties of heirloom tomatoes actively cultivated and over 15,000 known varieties, it can be very difficult to decide what to grow.

Firstly, decide whether you want to grow from seed or buy pre-grown plants. If the former, then you have a much wider selection as the pre-grown plants tend to be the same few varieties such as Gardener’s Delight or Moneymaker. Occasionally you may find more unusual varieties such as a yellow tomato or Tigeralla or even a black tomato, but these are much harder to find.

Colored tomatoes

Colored tomatoes

When growing from seed, you need to start your plants now or in the next month so that they have time to mature, fruit and ripen. If you are in a colder area with a short growing season, it is important to start them off indoors early so they are fruiting and ripening when the weather is right for them. Pre-grown plants can be bought much later in the season around the time, or just after, the last frost. Remember, tomato plants are not frost hardy!

Be adventurous with your choice of tomatoes, don’t just grow the same tomatoes you can buy in the store, choose some varieties that are unusual, different and not available from the shops. I have my favorite varieties, but every year I like to try one or two new cultivars that I’ve not grown before. Each year, new types of plant are brought to market, so there is always something new to try!

One thing to consider is whether to grow determinate or indeterminate tomatoes.

Determinate tomatoes are known as bush tomatoes. They grow up to about three feet tall, set buds at the end of the branches which form flowers. The fruit all ripens at once and then, usually, the plant dies back. These are great if you don’t have a lot of space, haven’t got the time to prune your plants, or you want a lot of fruit ripe at once to can or make into something. There are fewer varieties of bush tomato, but you can usually find a variety that is the size and color you want to grow.

Determinate tomato plant

Determinate or bush tomatoes are much smaller, requiring less maintenance

Indeterminate tomatoes are the type of plant people are most familiar with. These are the vining tomatoes that need supporting and grow like crazy. These have to be pinched out and will continue to produce fruit until they are killed off by frost. Indeterminate tomatoes produce very large crops of tomatoes over a longer period as the fruit does not ripen all at once. These are great for eating as you do not end up with a glut of fruit. Typically, you limit the growth of this type of tomato so that it can ripen the fruit.

Indeterminate tomato plants

Indeterminate or vining tomato plants grow very tall if not maintained

Whether you are growing in the soil or in containers will also influence your choice of seeds. Bush tomatoes are better suited for containers as their size is limited whereas indeterminate tomatoes need larger containers because they grow so big. Tumbling tomatoes are excellent for hanging baskets and make for a striking, edible display.

Which you choose to grow is up to you. I recommend picking some you like, so if you regularly buy cherry tomatoes or salad tomatoes, grow some of those. Instead of growing a normal red cherry tomato, grow a yellow cherry tomato such as Golden Gem or a pear yellow tomato such as Nugget or an unusual crimson tomato such as Midnight Snack.


If you fancy something more unusual, try growing Cherokee purple for giant, beefsteak tomatoes that are a lovely shade of purple. Big Rainbow is another beefsteak variety worth growing due to its unusual striping. One of my favorites is Mortgage Lifter, which are giant red tomatoes. They got their name from the farmer who developed them. He was on the verge of losing his farm when he developed this variety of tomato which he sold at markets. It was hugely profitable for him and he was able to pay his bills and save his farm, including paying off his mortgage, hence the name!

There are lots of varieties out there and you will even find that different seed companies stock different varieties plus may have exclusive varieties. Choose some that you like and pick one or two varieties that are purely for fun, as an experiment; you never know, you may find a new favorite tomato!

Tune in to the next installment to find out the difference between F1 and Heirloom tomatoes and to learn what you need to start your tomatoes off!

Discover everything you need to know about growing tomatoes in my new book, “Growing Tomatoes” available in paperback and ebook in the UK here and the rest of the world, including the USA here.

growing tomatoes book cover


Greenhouse Gardening – A Beginners Guide To Growing Fruit and Vegetables All Year Round

greenhouse gardening image“Greenhouse Gardening : A Beginners Guide To Growing Fruit & Vegetables All Year Round” is for anyone who wants to know how to get the most out of their greenhouse. Whether you want to extend your growing season, grow unusual plants or protect your valued plants from the frost a greenhouse is an essential tool for any gardener.

Greenhouses are so useful but many people don’t make the most of their greenhouse and it soon either gets filled with clutter or turns into a jungle of uncontrolled plants. This book provides you with a complete guide to growing any type of plant in a greenhouse and how to make the most of it. With the information in this book you will be able to avoid the many pitfalls and issues people encounter when buying, building and using their greenhouse.

As you read this book you will learn everything you need to know about owning a greenhouse from choosing the best type of greenhouse to building the foundation and even buying used greenhouses. You will learn how a greenhouse can extend your growing season and let you grow plants that you would otherwise be unable to grow.

In “Greenhouse Gardening : A Beginners Guide To Growing Fruit & Vegetables All Year Round” you will learn:

  • How to buy a greenhouse whether new or used
  • Choosing the best glass, floor, construction and foundation to ensure your greenhouse has a long life
  • The difference between a greenhouse and a poly tunnel
  • How to build a solid foundation for your greenhouse
  • Why air-flow and cooling is so important and how to prevent humidity damaging your plants
  • The best way to heat your greenhouse and the differences between the different heating systems
  • How to irrigate your greenhouse to automatically water your plants and protect them from heat damage
  • The difference between growing in the ground versus growing in containers
  • To secure your greenhouse against the wind and protect it from damage
  • How to start seedlings successfully in your greenhouse
  • Growing tomatoes, chillies, peppers, citrus plants, squashes, cucumbers, grapes, tropical plants and more in your greenhouse
  • Preparing your greenhouse for spring time
  • Overwintering your greenhouse and extending your growing season
  • Avoiding the potential problems associated with owning a greenhouse
  • The potential diseases and pests you will encounter in your greenhouse
  • How to ensure your plants are pollinated in your greenhouse
  • Growing year round in your greenhouse
  • The best way to clean your greenhouse to avoid potential problems

A greenhouse is an essential tool for any gardener, particularly those in cooler areas and can make a difference between your tomatoes ripening and you having fried green tomatoes! When you read this book you will avoid the many frustrations a greenhouse owner can face, with all the information you need to successful grow in a greenhouse.

Enjoy owning your greenhouse as “Greenhouse Gardening : A Beginners Guide To Growing Fruit & Vegetables All Year Round” explains all about the potential pitfalls and how to avoid them. Discover the many benefits of owning a greenhouse today and how you can grow your own vegetables, plants and flowers all year round!