Tomatoes, a leading provider of lycopene and antioxidants, are one of the most popular vegetables in America. There are thousands of heirloom and hybrid tomatoes from which to choose in a full range of shapes, sizes and colors, including white, green, pink, red, orange, purple and yellow. Tomatoes grow well in many locations, including gardens, raised beds, containers and even hanging baskets.
Cherry and Grape
Cherry and grape tomato plants provide snack-size round or grape-shaped fruits that grow between 3/4 of an inch to 2 inches in size. These compact tomatoes are perfect for containers and hanging baskets. Varieties include Tiny Tim, Wild Cherry, Small Fry, Supersweet, Sprite and Riesentraube.
Paste tomatoes, also referred to as plum tomatoes, are medium-sized with more meat than pulp. Paste fruits grow from 3 to 6 inches in length and can be grown successfully in larger containers and gardens. Varieties include Jersey Devil, Mama Leone, Roma, Principe Borghese and San Marzano.
Slicing tomatoes, including Oxheart varieties, are medium to large and often round in shape. Used widely on sandwiches and salads, these tomatoes tend to have an even distribution of pulp to meat. Separated by early, main and late crop varieties, slicing tomatoes grow well in large containers, raised beds and gardens. Slicing varieties include Better Boy, Big Raspberry, Celebrity, Druzba, Kosovo, Purple Perfect and Russian.
Beefsteaks are the largest variety of tomato, reaching 1 to 2 pounds in weight and several inches in circumference. These steak-sized specimens have a higher proportion of pulp to meat but produce full, succulent flavors. The large stems, fruit and foliage of beefsteak varieties grow best in gardens or raised beds and require staking to support the weight of the fruit. Beefsteak varieties include Aussie, Beauty, Beefmaster, Coustralee and Caspian Pink.
Odds and Ends
Hybrids and heirlooms exist for all the aforementioned tomato plants. Heirlooms are varieties that have been passed down and strengthened from one generation to the next. Hybrids are products of cross-pollination between two different varieties, creating a unique third variety. Some popular heirloom varieties include Cherokee Chocolate, Black Cherry, Green Grape, White Rabbit and Zhezha. Hybrids include Early Girl, Juliet, Viva Italia and hundreds of other man-made tomato creations.