I hate staking. I'll happily weed for hours on end, happy as can be. I'll spend a full day working hard with a shovel and smile all the while. But I hate staking.
Because of this, my tomatoes always end up sprawling in a tangled mess on the ground. I know they'll be healthier if I stake. I know it will be easier to harvest them if I stake. Because I know this, some years I actually go so far as to put stakes out in the garden, which resulted in my tomatoes being a wild mess with some stakes sticking out of the middle.
So this year, I'm going to try growing some determinate tomatoes.
The technical definitions of determinate and indeterminate just refer to where flowers are produced. Determinate plants produce them at the top of a stem, forcing new growth to come from new branches at the side of the plant, while indeterminate plants produce flowers along the sides of the stem, allowing a single branch to keep growing on and on and on.
I've steered away from indeterminate tomatoes up until now, though, because catalogs always define them a different way: They say the determinate tomatoes produce fruit which ripens all at once, while indeterminate varieties produce continuously all summer long.
But: Recently I've been reading something different: Tom Clothier on the tomato page of his quirky, very enjoyable website, says some there are determinate tomatoes, which produce a load of fruit and then stop, and there are vigorous or strong determinates, which keep sending up new shoots, ending in flowers and fruit, all season -- so they produce continously like a indeterminate, but minus the staking, and are usually much earlier than indeterminates.
Which sounds perfect to me... We'll see! If I can get tomatoes which produce well and taste yummy but don't turn themselves into a tangled mass, I'm all for it. I'm still growing my favorite indeterminate varieties, but I'm also going to be trying out these 4 determinate ones:
We'll see how they perform!
Anyone with experience with determinate tomatoes? If so, please leave a comment with your thoughts, and any varieties you'd suggest or warn against.