Tomatoes are ideal for a home garden, as there are dozens of varieties tailored to different regions and climates, and provide a bountiful harvest from just one plant. The varieties range from cherry, beefsteak and paste tomatoes, to name a few, in colors such as yellow, green, red and even white and black. There are five main categories of tomato varieties, such as heirloom, hybrid and determinate/indeterminate. It's important to know which one will work best for you besides choosing a variety under each category.
A hybrid tomato seed is a cross from two different varieties. These are usually made for a tomato to embody several different characteristics, ideal to a certain climate or soil type. Unfortunately, hybrid seeds are usually sterile and produce a less desirable plant from the parent plants' mixed genes. On the brighter side, hybrids are often more resistant to disease and cracking.
Open-pollinated tomatoes are the same as their parents each generation, so these are ideal for saving seeds.These often provide the richest most hearty flavors, and are a good starter tomato for home gardeners. Open-pollinated tomatoes take longer than the other varieties to ripen, and grow best in long hot summers for optimum fruit maturation. Unfortunately, this variety has a high withering rate and can be susceptible to disease easily. When planted and grown properly from a young age though, these tomatoes provide a large harvest and will stay stable all season.
Tomatoes can either be determinate or indeterminate, which pertains to the way they grow. Determinate tomatoes are more compact and the fruit ripens in clusters, all at the same time. They grow to a specific height. The most common varieties include Roma, patio and past tomatoes. Indeterminate plants grow constantly and ripen at different times until frost. These tomatoes need a sturdy trellis to grow on and mature.
Heirloom tomatoes are often looked at as top quality fruit in taste, texture and appearance. These are adapted to specific climates and come in a large variety of shapes (sometimes resembling mini pumpkins or squash with smooth glossy skin) and colors (pink, white, dark purple, red, orange, yellow, etc.). Heirlooms are often open-pollinated varieties that have been passed down through generations.