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Growing Heirloom Tomatoes

Updated on November 24, 2014

Tomato: Fruit or Vegetable?

To begin with we need to know what constitues a fruit and a vegetable.

In a minute you are going to be surprised when you learn the definitions to find out that many things you call a vegetable are actually a fruit.

Does it have seeds? If the answer is "yes" then it is a fruit.

So tomatoes are fruits.

We could also consider green beans, cucumbers, squash, pumpkins and others as fruits as well. But we do not. We call them vegetables.

Real vegetables would be lettuce, mushrooms, celery, greens and others along this line.

Grow Your Own

 If you really want to taste a nice, juicy, rich-in-flavor tomato, you will have to grow your own. 

The ones you buy in a store or get at a restaurant are picked while they are still mostly green and shipped.  The tomato may turn red in transportation but it does not develop the full flavor it would it left on the vine to rippen to a rich color.

Tomatoes are usually easy to grow and there are many types and varitities.

They can be determinate or indeterminate.

Determinate means it is a bush type plant, will grow to about three feet tall and put out all of its fruit at about the same time.  Then it is through ready to be pulled up and turned into compost. They usually do not require a support of any kind.

Indeterminate means they will grow and grow and grow all summer long.  As long as they are growing they will produce.  These will need a support or staking or trellising.  You can let them grow on the ground  but it is usually not a good idea since the fruits tend to get damaged.

Next are the types.  There are four major types:  Cherry, Grape, also sometimes called Roma, Regular tomato and big beef tomato.

Cherry tomatoes are small, about the size of a large marble.  They mature early in the season and are good for salads or snacks.  They usually weigh about 1 to 2 ounces.

The Grape tomatoes look like a large oblonged grape.  They are good for a salad when cut in half.  They are easy to grow and also mature early in the season.   They usually weight two to three ounces.

Then there are the regular sized tomatoes.  These are good for sandwhiches and hamburgers.  they can also be quartered for a salad.  They usually weight 6 to 8 ounces.

Then there are the big beef types.  These are large tomatoes usually taking only one slice to cover a hamburger or sandwhich.  They usually weight 12 to 16 ounces.


Tomato Colors

 Tomatoes come in all types of colors.  You name the major color and there is a tomato for it. 

There is the red, brown, black, purple, green, yellow, white, green (ripens green) orange, bi-color red/yellow and pink.

Most of us will stick with red since that is what we know.  But the other colors of tomatoes taste great as well.  Remember the green ketchup?  It tasted just as great as the red, but the green freaked people out so they stopped making it.


Where and What to Grow?

You do not have to have acres and acres of land to grow some tomatoes.  They can be grow anywhere you have a pot that is at least two feet wide and two feet deep.  This will hold one tomato plant.

One tomato plant can produce dozens of tomatoes.  I have had plants that put out as many as 36 tomatoes over the season.  This is the regular size tomato.  Cherry and Grape can produce hundreds off one plant, especially if it is a indeterminate. 

I once had a determinate plant that was ten feet tall.  I had to stand on a ladder to harvest the tomatoes.

Go to a local nursery, not discout store and get some good garden mix.  I say stay away from the discout stores because their mixes do not contain enough dirt for the plants to grow.  They have all kinds of leaves, sticks, trash and other stuff in their mix.

Last year I bought garden soil from a discount store.  It was supposed to be great.  Well, nothing grew in it.  Their was not enough dirt for the plants to grow and produce.

You can buy tomato plants that have been started or plant seeds and grow your own.  I like to use seeds because I have more control and choices when it comes to varities and colors.  Most places that sell tomato plants only sell red.

If you do decide to buy your own seeds, do not buy the stuff that sells in the store for .99 cents.  These are usually old and left overs from the previous seasons.  Good seeds are going to cost you good money.

I have seen people go out and put in a great garden, all the best of everything.  But then they buy the .99 cent seeds at the store and plant them.  Their crop did not grow and if it did, it was poor.  Good seeds cost good money.  For good tomato seeds, you can expect to pay about $4 for a pack of 40 seeds.  Some packs only contain 8 seeds but these are usually hybrids and are more expensive to produce.

What is a Hybrid?

 What is a hybrid you ask.

Well seeds are produced in two ways.

One way is the hybrid way which is taking the best of several varities and combining them into one plant.  The fruits will be outstanding and able to resist some diseases and insects, will taste just as great as a heirloom, but the seeds these fruits produce are not any good.  You can grow them but the results will vary and not be very good.

Heirloom seeds are original seeds.  Sometimes that are called "open pollinated" meaning they are not cross bred with other varities.

The seeds produce by a heirloom plant can be saved and used again.  With the heirloom seeds you get the same results each time.  Heirloom seeds are what survivalist buy to save for a rainy day.

If you do save your own seeds, remember most will only be viable for a couple of years.


I am not going to go into details on planting tomato seeds. There are a lot of good videos on youtube that tell you how to do this. Make sure you use a transplant solution for your plants and that you follow a hardening off procedure before planting them out. This needs to be done even for the plants you buy at the store.

I like to plant seeds myself. Too much hassel growing transplants.

I have just hit the hight points. You can find out more about growing tomatoes by going to my website for more information on Gardening.

Happy Growing!


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    • David Schulze profile image

      David Schulze 7 years ago from San Antonio, Texas

      Thank you.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 7 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Terrific information about tomatoes. Your explanation of heirloom and hybrid is great.


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