Califonia Bountiful

Gardening Q&A

July/August 2020 California Bountiful magazine

As a California Bountiful reader, you have the opportunity to get your seasonal gardening questions answered by gardening expert Pat Rubin. Here are a few questions from our readers.

One of my tomato plants says it is determinate. What does that mean?

Determinate tomatoes, also called bush tomatoes, grow to a predetermined size, produce flowers and tomatoes, and then die. It's part of their genetic makeup. Once fruits form, the tomato doesn't keep growing and flowering and producing more fruit. Most are early producers. Paste tomatoes, such as Roma, are determinate. Indeterminate tomatoes, also called vine tomatoes, continue to grow throughout the season. They keep producing leaves, flowers, fruit, more stems, more leaves and flowers until the weather forces them to stop. If not caged or staked, they sprawl. Most cherry tomatoes and heirloom tomatoes are indeterminate, as well as varieties such as Big Boy, Beefsteak, Beefmaster and Brandywine. For tomatoes all season, choose indeterminate varieties.

I'm a new gardener. What tomato varieties should I grow?

There are so many fabulous tomatoes, you could practically throw a dart at the list and come up with something amazing. The most popular heirloom tomatoes are Cherokee Purple and Brandywine. I like Black Krim. As far as hybirds go, Celebrity, Early Girl and Beefsteak have been favorites for years. I like to try a few new ones each year, and choose them based on their evocative names: Mortgage Lifter, Bull's Heart, Green Zebra, Speckled Roman, the list goes on. Have fun with it.

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