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Tomatoes: Choosing Your Seed and Planting How-To's

Updated on December 9, 2013
These are Arkansas Traveler pink tomatoes that my son grew for open show at our local fair this past summer.
These are Arkansas Traveler pink tomatoes that my son grew for open show at our local fair this past summer. | Source

Choosing Your Seed

We all know that tomato plants have to start from seed. First you need to decide which tomato you want to grow. How you plan to use your tomatoes will decide which variety you want to grow. In this article, I am working strictly with heirloom, non-GMO tomatoes. There are many types of tomatoes for various uses. Tomato uses range from paste tomatoes to slicers with varying taste, meatiness, and color. I'm going to start with great slicer tomatoes of various colors and acidity.



Costoluto Genovese: is an Italian, red tomato that is large and juicy. Perfect for slicing. This tomato is flat and ridged like traditional old heirlooms and are very flavorful.

Beefsteak: is a staple red tomato for most farmers in the U.S. and as many farmers know it is a very large tomato which is great for slicing.

Uncle Mark Bagby: is a red tomato that was brought over from Germany in 1919. This is a great slicer as well as meaty enough for canning.

Rutgers: is a red tomato that is another mainstay in the U.S. for local farmers and gardeners. It is both good for slicing and canning.


For those of us that enjoy fried green tomatoes or a green tomato slices on a sandwich, here are a few great varieties to choose from.

Aunt Ruby's German Green Tomato: is a great choice! It is large and flavorful. Like a red beefsteak in size and just as full-flavored.

Green Moldovan: is large and has a bit of a tropical taste. Great slicer!

Green Zebra: is a smaller tomato at around 3 ounces but beautifully colored with bright lime green with yellow stripes. This tomato is a favorite with many chefs.


Amana: these are huge tomatoes and very juicy and tasty. I have personally grown these and they are magnificent slicers!

Dad's Sunset: is a very large, uniform tomato

Woodle: also a tomato I have personally grown and they are medium to large when ripe. They are a uniform, very marketable tomato. I have sold this tomato for a few years at my farm stand with great success.


Arkansas Traveler: is a medium size tomato that is absolutely delicious. This has been a huge seller for years at my farm stand. It is a beautiful, blush pink that is very attractive.

Henderson's Pink Ponderosa: is a beefsteak type tomato. This produces large 1 lb. fruit and is great for slicing!

Rose De Berne: is a smaller fruit that gets between 4-8oz in size. Very flavorful.

Brandywine: a staple tomato here in the U.S. and is still as popular as it was in 1885. This is a very large tomato with the old heirloom shape.


Cherokee: is a beautiful purple tomato that was grown by the Cherokee Indians, hence the name. It is very flavorful and dark.

Carbon: is a very famous and well-loved tomato. This tomato has won many taste awards and can be difficult to find due to its popularity.

Chocolate: is a medium size purple tomato, great for slicing!

Paul Robeson: these tomatoes are absolutely delicious and great looking as well!


Dixie Golden Giant: is a beefsteak type yellow tomato that can get as big as 2 lbs. This is a real beauty!

Tasmanian Blushing: is a medium size tomato that has a slight pink blushing. Very sweet.

Pilcer Vesy: is a Russian tomato that is very productive. It is also a beefsteak type tomato.

Canning Tomatoes:

Any of the beefsteak type tomatoes listed above are great for canning as all beefsteak types are very meaty. I am going to add red pasting type tomatoes in this category for those of you who want to get paste as quick as you can. Making paste or sauce takes a long time and using a tomato that is good for paste will lessen your cook time.

Amish Paste: these are big, blocky, roma type tomatoes. Very meaty and perfect for making paste.

Bonny Best: this tomato has long been a staple canning tomato, both meaty and flavorful.

Marglobe Supreme: is a medium size canning tomato

Ten Fingers of Naples: is an Italian variety that is a small, roma type that have excellent flavor and great for paste.

Fresh Eating Cherry Tomatoes;


Principe Borghese: an Italian heirloom grape shaped tomato

Chadwick Cherry: produces 1oz cherry's . Sweet and delicious.

A Grappoli D'Inverno: an Italian cherry that slightly resembles tiny roma's


Sungold Select ll: perfect cherry tomatoes with a tangy flavor.


Pearly Pink: bright pink, flavorful cherry tomatoes

Thai Pink Egg: a Thai grape shaped cherry tomato. Uniform is size and color. Very sweet.

Pink Vernissage: these range in size from cherry to 2oz and are beautifully colored with a delicious flavor.


Dr. Carolyn: is a pale yellow cherry bursting with flavor

Hartman's Yellow Gooseberry: large yielding, sweet cherry's

Yellow Vernissage: like the pink vernissage listed above, they range in size from cherry to 2oz


Black Cherry: grape shaped black cherry's

Black Mauri: black grape shaped cherry that is very flavorful

Tomatoes we grew this summer for our farm stand!
Tomatoes we grew this summer for our farm stand! | Source

Planting Your Seed

Now that you have chosen your variety it is time to plant the seed. Follow the directions on your seed packet for seed depth and spacing. In most areas you want to start your seed indoors. I suggest buying some seed starting trays as they can be re-used over and over if cleaned properly after use. You will need to get some vegetable potting soil, compost, or those expandable pellets to plant your seeds in. Most tomato seeds do well being planted at a depth of 1/4 in. I usually plant two seeds per cell in a seed tray, I was brought up a bit old fashioned so I always plant one for me and one for the bugs. Though I realize that is probably not needed with seed trays it is a force of habit for me. You can plant only one in a cell to make transplanting easier on the roots. Some people will soak their seeds in water for an hour or two before they plant, to help jump start germination. I usually don't do this as I have always started my seeds so early it just doesn't matter to get an extra day or two ahead. I usually wet my soil down a bit instead of soaking the seed and it seems to work well for me. I live in the north east so for me to get tomatoes at a decent time in the summer I have to start my seeds indoors in February. I will put the planting in a step by step format so it's as easy as 1, 2, 3 for everyone.

1. Get your seed trays filled with soil/ pellets expanded with water. Make sure if you are using pro-biotic soil or a dry potting soil that you wet your soil to help your seed to grow.

2. Using a pencil or long bolt make a small hole approximately 1/4 in deep in each cell of your seed tray.

3. Drop one or two seeds in each hole and cover.

4. Now sprinkle a bit of water over the whole tray to wet the seed.

5. Put your seed tray under a grow light, in a window that catches a large amount of sun, or on a warming pad.

6. Wait for your seed to pop up! It usually takes anywhere from 5-8 days depending upon the variety of seed as well as the temperature your seeds are kept at.

What type of tomato do you use the most?

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Do you regularly plant different color tomatoes?

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    • Jules Butler profile image

      Jamie Butler 4 years ago from Hudson, New York

      Thank you Susan!

    • Susan Recipes profile image

      Susan 4 years ago from India

      Very informative hub about Tomatoes. Thanks for sharing. Voted up & useful.

    • Jules Butler profile image

      Jamie Butler 4 years ago from Hudson, New York

      Thank you! Glad you like it and good luck on your next crop.

    • Daniel Bixby profile image

      Daniel Bixby 4 years ago from Stottville, New York

      I guess I never knew there was so much to know about tomatoes but I surely will revert back to this article to start my next crop, Well written!