Thursday, September 16, 2010

The difference between determinate and indeterminate tomatoes

Guess what is ripening?
Becoming an official master gardener has been incredibly beneficial. So much great information, access, and practice. If you've run into me at a farmer's market giving advice and answering questions, you've caught me in my element. I may ask you 20 questions until I give you an answer, but that's just how we master gardeners roll.

But I digress. One of the things I've learned since becoming a master gardener is what the difference is between determinate and indeterminate tomatoes. When shopping or reading about them in catalogs, you may notice they're labeled one or the other. Sometimes semi.
-Determinate means they're determined to produce all at once. Meaning, these tomatoes produce a massive amount all at the same time, and once they're done and picked, they're done for the season.
-Indeterminate means the time they produce is undetermined and they'll produce throughout the season.

Most people plant indeterminate tomatoes because the joy of a fresh garden ripe tomato is slicing and eating them fresh throughout the season. Well, that is when you have a good tomato growing season, meaning other than the one we've had here in the Northwest this year. But now I'm starting to show my bitterness, aren't I?

I planted several determinate tomatoes this year because I was determined (get it? determined? determinate?) to grow my own tomatoes for canning sauce. I would need a lot of tomatoes all at the same time for that. I've been patient, I've been waiting, and looking at the photo above, it looks like they're finally ripening. It must be the cute dog sitting nearby that's helped them along, no?

We've enjoyed a few tomatoes from our indeterminate vines...Black Krim, Big Boy....but not much. However, those San Marzano and Romas are looking pretty good for sauce making. And saucemaking is definitely on my radar in the coming weeks. Oh fickle tomatoes. I'm determined to see you ripen.


Amy said...

I FINALLY got a ripe roma. And, of course, ate it immediately. I am going to have to buy for my sauces this year, too. :(

Next year will be better, and this year will be the year of green tomato jam.

Jacquelyn said...

Ha! I was just listening to back episodes of your podcast, and the one I just played was where you were talking about determinate v. indeterminate tomatoes back in the spring. I was feeling kind of wistful about all the optimism we had for our tomatoes at the beginning of the summer. :P Oh, well.
I must say, your podcast is PERFECT for listening to while I'm doing housework. I can learn all sorts of useful things for the garden and stuff while I'm actually working in the garden and around the house. Win! :D