Tomato lingo

When deciding what tomato varieties to plant in your garden, consider the various growth characteristics:

  • Indeterminate tomatoes are the traditional tall, endlessly vining types that require stakes or other supports—these continue growing and producing fruit all season. Determinate tomatoes put out many side shoots (suckers) that some gardeners pinch out to produce a sturdier main stem and larger fruit.
  • Determinate tomatoes, called bush types, are stockier and shorter-statured. They mature early and bear all their fruit over a brief period and then stop growing. Determinate varieties are popular with gardeners who have less space and are also favored by canners who want to harvest a large amount all at once. Don't prune these types or you will diminish your harvest.
  • Semi-determinate tomatoes have characteristics of both determinate and indeterminate varieties. They bear all season but produce fewer suckers than indeterminate tomatoes and are typically more compact (about 5 feet tall). There are fewer commercial varieties in this category—'Celebrity' is sometimes referred to as semi-determinate.

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