Growing the right tomato seed variety can mean the difference between success and failure in the vegetable garden. If you choose a seed that produces a plant that takes 72 days to reach harvest, and your growing season only allows for 55 days, you may not get mature tomatoes. The first frost of the season will most likely damage the fruit before it is ready for harvest. However, tomatoes bred for shorter growing seasons often are sunburned in warmer climates.
First Early Reds
First early reds make a good seed choice for Northern locations that have a cooler climate and shorter growing season. This variety of tomato plant takes 60 days or less to harvest from planting. You get small-to-medium-sized tomatoes of 4 or 5 oz. at harvest. The plants are compact, making them conducive for container planting. This variety is less advantageous for hot, Southern climates where the fruit may be sunburned. Some types of first early reds are subarctic plenty with 45 days to harvest, early girl with 54 days to harvest and early cascade with 55 days to harvest.
Medium Early Reds
Medium early reds grow well in locations with a growing season of 65 days or longer. Choose this variety of tomato seed if your climate is such. This variety produces a tomato size of 9 to 10 oz. Medium early reds include champion with 65 days to harvest and mountain spring with 65 days to harvest.
Main Crop Reds
Main crop red tomato varieties make up the majority of commercial and garden tomato seeds grown. The fruit is a much higher quality that earlier harvested tomatoes, with a fuller harvest. They’re grown in locations with longer growing seasons, 70 to 80 days. Choose from many types of seeds in this variety category because of the many hybrid seeds developed. Some favorites are the 10 oz. tomato celebrity with 70 days to harvest, the 10 oz. better boy that harvests in 72 days and the larger 12 oz. supersonic with 79 days to harvest.
Extra Large Reds
The enormous size harvested from this variety of tomato seed is sought after for delicious slices on sandwiches. However, choosing this variety of seed comes with problems of the fruit of growing in odd shapes and developing scars that must be removed. However, these problems are not so important to the home gardener as it is for commercial growers. Seed breeders are constantly working to improve imperfections through hybridization. Some types of seeds in this variety are supersteak developing a 1 to 2 lb. fruit in 80 days and beefmaster with a 1 to 2 lb. fruit in 81 days.
The Earl of Edgecombe tomato grows from an heirloom seed. This means that it is a nonhybrid. It has not been bred by man, but grows from its original state. This tomato is exceedingly disease free, which is unusual in the world of heirloom seeds. Usually this trait is bred into tomato seeds through hybridization. The seeds are best planted in longer growing season locations, as it takes 73 days to maturity. The 6- to 10-oz. fruit touts a gold-orange skin and flesh instead of the bright red ones you may be used to, but it is very juicy and flavorful.