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tomato yields determinants vs. indeterminants

 
Posts: 33
Location: South coast MA, Zone 6b
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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?
 
master pollinator
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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.

 
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My experience growing tomatoes in containers always pointed to the size of container being the limiting factor, not the vine.
 
Posts: 411
Location: Georgia
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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
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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
 
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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
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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
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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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
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Location: South coast MA, Zone 6b
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The heat and dryness now must be worse than the winters.
 
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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
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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.
 
Posts: 151
Location: Madison, AL
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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.
 
steward
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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.

 
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