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June 14, 2011

Tomato tomato tomatoe ... Variety!

If you want to have a continuous crop of tomatoes in your southern garden you need to plant many varieties, not the same tomato tomato, even if it is your favorite and a high-producer. I usually have at least five different tomato varieties growing in my garden. There are many reasons to introduce variety: if one fails, you still have others going on; determinate (fruiting at once) tomatoes can be harvested and canned, releasing the spot for planting something else, while indeterminate varieties will keep fruiting all summer. Tomatoes come in different sizes, shapes and colors so that you can never tire of the same type of tomato on your salad plate. I usually plant Roma for canning, it is a determinate type, as well as cherry, grape and beef stake type of tomatoes for eating. Here's what's going on in the garden third week of June:

Roma is practically done fruiting:

Beef stake type (Early Girl, indeterminate) has red and green tomatoes and will keep fruiting probably another month:

Grape tomatoes, indeterminate, will keep fruiting till August. Update: Last fruit harvested from these tomatoes was July 23rd.

Another beef stake type, Tree Tomato is still green, and that's OK, I don't want all tomatoes turning red at once:

All these tomato varieties were seeded and planted at the same time, but by the nature of each variety they fruit and ripen at different times giving us a continuous harvest and enjoyment.


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