Tomatoes are the most popular vegetable to grow at home, with 95 percent of home gardens including some form of tomato. Growing organic tomatoes ensures that they are pesticide-free and high in nutrient content. Tomatoes germinate when the soil is 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit and they prefer a location with full sun and easy access to water. There are several types of outdoor tomato varieties to grow.
Growing outdoor tomato varieties in containers is an easy way to have a tomato patch near the house. Containers such as wooden half-barrels and large decorative clay pots easily accommodate smaller variety tomatoes such as the classic cherry tomato. Patio Princess Hybrid grows to 2 feet in height and produces 2 1/2 inch tomatoes. Another small variety is Christmas Grapes Tomato, which has tall vines that continue to produce the 1-inch tomatoes all season. Tomato plants need to be staked when grown in containers. Container-grown plants need potting soil high in nutrient content, such as organic compost. Garden centers carry many commercial types of compost. Container plants also dry out more quickly than garden vegetables so check the soil moisture frequently.
Heirloom tomatoes grow from seeds that are open-pollinated, meaning they have not been hybridized. Tomato seeds were traditionally saved by families to create next year's crop. Heirloom tomatoes come from stock that is unchanged through generations of seed collecting. For a tomato to be classified as heirloom it has to have been grown unchanged for 50 years and also have a story of origin. Heirloom tomatoes are becoming more popular at garden centers, where you find well-known varieties such as Brandywine and Mr. Stripy. Anna Russian Tomato is less well-known but has many attractive features. It is a beautiful pink, heart-shaped fruit that can weigh up to 1 pound. Its foliage is sparse and droopy on indeterminate vines that can reach 8 to 10 feet in length. Aunt Ruby's Green Tomato turns light green with a hint of pink when it is ripe and has a sweet, spicy flavor.
Legend Red Slicing Tomato was created by Oregon State University and it is a classic 6- to 9-oz. glossy red slicing tomato with intense flavor. It comes to harvest early, in 60 to 70 days from germination. The Siletz Red Slicing Tomato is also a full-size, early-harvest variety with deep red fruit and mild tomato flavor. Big Boy tomatoes were first introduced in 1949 and have remained popular ever since. It is classic bright red with 10-oz. to 1-pound fruits and reliable strong tomato flavor. Little Mama is a 3- to 4-oz roma-type tomato that grows in clusters of 12 or more oblong bright red fruit. The entire cluster can be snipped off the vine at one time.