• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

tomato yields determinants vs. indeterminants

 
Gerry Power
Posts: 33
Location: South coast MA, Zone 6b
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
As a small gardener using containers I find indeterminant tomato plants to be much harder to manage. Is there a significant advantage in yield for indeterminants?
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 8846
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
112
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Determinate tend to ripen all their tomatoes at once, whereas indeterminate ripen over a longer period. Determinate are better for processing into sauce, dried, or other methods of handling a lot of tomatoes at once, whereas indeterminate are better for harvesting a few tomatoes every day over a longer period.

 
Paul Krum
Posts: 9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My experience growing tomatoes in containers always pointed to the size of container being the limiting factor, not the vine.
 
Alex Ames
Posts: 393
Location: Georgia
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It has been broken down for you pretty well already but flavor is also a factor. I find indeterminate
varieties to be generally better eating. If easy management and neatness is more important than that or if you
want all your tomatoes at once, determinant is your best choice. I grow mine in the ground and use
cages which keep them contained pretty well. I don't grow any determinant varieties at all.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 8846
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
112
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Some people prune and train their indeterminate tomatoes, which is more work but might give the best of both worlds - longer harvest and better flavor with controlled size.

http://www.finegardening.com/how-to/articles/pruning-tomatoes.aspx
 
Rion Mather
Posts: 644
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Other years I would have been a fan of indeterminates but I have a cherry determinate that is doing exceptionally well in this drought.
 
Gerry Power
Posts: 33
Location: South coast MA, Zone 6b
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Tyler,

I have to admit that I am not the most attentive gardener. If I'm lucky I get to work at it once a week. As a result my prunning skills are "weak". Thus my indeterminant tomatos overwhelm their supports. I did not understand the harvesting implications before, so next year I'll have to work at it a bit more.

Down in Texas can you grow outside all year, or do you get too many freezes?
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 8846
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
112
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Winters are usually mild enough I can grow something outside all year (not tender things like tomatoes, though). Sometimes we get a very cold winter that will kill everything but the hardiest crops.
 
Gerry Power
Posts: 33
Location: South coast MA, Zone 6b
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The heat and dryness now must be worse than the winters.
 
James Colbert
Posts: 265
8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Does anyone else grow their indeterminants in a sprawl culture as opposed to caging or using other artificial supports? I was always too cheap and lazy to support my tomatoes. They do take up a lot of space but they also send out secondary roots where a shoot contacts the soil (or are intentionally buried under the soil). This means more yield and vigor for the plant and less work for me. You do lose some tomatoes in the jumble but the plant produces so many it doesn't really matter.
 
Rion Mather
Posts: 644
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
James Colbert wrote:Does anyone else grow their indeterminants in a sprawl culture as opposed to caging or using other artificial supports? I was always too cheap and lazy to support my tomatoes. They do take up a lot of space but they also send out secondary roots where a shoot contacts the soil (or are intentionally buried under the soil). This means more yield and vigor for the plant and less work for me. You do lose some tomatoes in the jumble but the plant produces so many it doesn't really matter.


I am trying something like that this year, James. I like to think of it as the ruth stout approach.
 
Nicole Castle
Posts: 151
Location: Madison, AL
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Gerry, you can prune the heck out of tomatoes and they don't care. I keep the bottoms trimmed up then when the vines start to overwhelm the cages I prune off any unproductive vines.

Regarding sprawl culture -- it works well until you try to harvest and have to wade through the plant. I don't care for it. I have some cage made out of sheets of the concrete support stuff and it's no effort, really.
 
John Polk
steward
Pie
Posts: 7756
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
240
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have read Carolyn Male (author of "100 Heirloom Tomatoes for the American Garden") say that she always let her tomatoes sprawl. She didn't think caging/trellising was worth the trouble.

 
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic