A Guide to Picking the Perfect Tomato Variety for Your Garden

In the following pictures, leaves have been cut away to show the loads of tomatoes different varieties of tomato plants can produce. You will see plants grown in self-watering containers, you will see tomato plants 3-4 foot tall loaded with 50 to more than 100 6-10oz size tomatoes. Also, in self-watering containers you will see 7 foot + tall plants loaded with 150 to over 200 …. 6-8 oz size tomatoes.  

You will see some plants in the ground can produce over 100# of tomatoes on one single plant.  I always say, if I can do it, you can do it. I’ll show you how. If you don’t have a “Green Thumb”, I’ll give you one.  It’s as simple as I’ll give you a shopping list of things to pick up—you purchase the products on the list and follow a few simple steps …that’s all it takes & you will grow tomatoes easily!!!

A hint on when to pick tomatoes.  We tend to pick too soon.  Wait until that tomato is a little soft…..just because it’s the right color does not mean it’s the right ripeness!!!  You will see a big difference in flavor. 

Celebrity–Hybrid—an old standby. Grows like a bush to about 4 ½ foot tall and about 3 ½ feet wide….Medium size tomatoes, good flavor, thin skin and as you see—it’s packed with 6-8-10 oz size tomatoes.  This plant is jammed and easily has over 100 tomatoes. 

Champion—Hybrid. Another old standby. Medium size tomatoes, good flavor, grows like a vine to about 7 or 8 foot tall. Lots and lots of tomatoes….way over 150 tomatoes 6-8 oz size on this one plant. Growing in a SelfWatering Container.

Early Girl..  Hybrid.  Another old time standby.  Grows like a vine to about 8 foot tall.  This one growing in a half-wine barrel made into a SelfWatering Container.  A little smaller size tomatoes…6-8oz size. For me, not so flavorful and the skin is a little thicker…for sure not a favorite of mine…but maybe  you’ll like them…lots of people tell me they like Early Girl tomatoes & plant them every year….. you get plenty of tomatoes..above plant has way over 200 tomatoes.

Tomato plant

Big Beef….Hybrid.  One of my favorites.  Thin skin, lots of flavor and plenty of tomatoes…one plant can produce easily over 100# of tomatoes. 10-16 oz. size. This was an All America Selections in 1994. The breeder of the “Big Beef” was also the same breeder of the “Celebrity” tomato plant.  The Big Beef is one of my favorites. A must to plant every year.

Better Boy….Hybrid.  Probably one of the most popular tomatoes grown in the U.S.  and probably the easiest & best growing tomato for Southern California. Grows like a vine, Beef Steak size, sweet. Thin skin…can easily produce over 100# of tomatoes on one plant…past records show one plant has produced over 300# of tomatoes.…10-16 oz in size.. so when I tell you that you can easily get over 100#…..you can….it’s a must to plant each year….and the taste doesn’t get any better.  Probably my favorite hybrid tomato.

Cherokee Purple. Heirloom.. a must for growing every year.  Absolutely great tasting, dark meat, thin skinned tomatoes.  10-12 oz. size tomatoes.    Largest tomato weighed in at about  1½#.  Grows like a vine to about 6 foot tall. 

Lemon boy

Lemon Boy.  Hybrid.  Tennis ball size 6-7 oz, a favorite for many people looking for a mild flavored tomato. Grows like a vine to about 7 foot tall.  You can easily get 100 tomatoes on one plant.

San Diego. Hybrid.  Known as the tomato that saved San Diego. Grows like a bush to about 3 1/2 feet tall & 3 foot in diameter, peel back those leaves and it really packs up with medium 6-8-10 oz size, good tasting, thin skinned tomatoes. This plant has easily 50-75 tomatoes.

Brandywine Red. Heirloom.  Grows like a vine to about 8 foot tall.  Potato leaf type leaves. Beef Steak size tomatoes….good flavor, thin skin and for an heirloom—as you can see, plenty of tomatoes.  Year in and year out….Brandywine tomatoes are always in the top 3 national taste testing. It’s a must to try.

Brandywine Pink.. Heirloom…great tomato flavor, thin skinned beef steak size tomatoes 8-16 oz. largest hit 2# and you get plenty. Grows like a vine to over 6 foot. This one is a must to grow each year.  I like the flavor of the Brandywine Pink over the Brandywine Red.  A great Heirloom tomato and easy to grow in Southern California.

Mr Stripey…Heirloom.  Grows like a vine to over 8 foot tall and about 4 feet in diameter.  Thin skin and a really great tasting tomato…I was both surprised and impressed with the flavor…….Mr. Stripey caught mildew quite easily yet still easily produced lots and lots of tomatoes as you can see. I’ll plant it again. 

San Marzano….An Heirloom, San Marzano tomatoes are thinner and more pointed than Roma tomatoes.  The flesh is thicker with fewer seeds, and the taste is stronger, sweeter and less acidic. They are a favorite of the “Chefs.”  San Marzano tomatoes are great for cooking—canning, homemade tomato sauce, pasta sauce, etc.  The San Marzano vines have a somewhat longer season than other paste type tomato varieties. As you can see in the picture you will get plenty of tomatoes.  The store bought Roma tomato was created by crossing the San Marzano and 2 other varieties. 

Cherry Tomatoes

Husky Cherry. Hybrid. My favorite cherry tomato. Grows like a bush to about 5 foot tall….Cherry tomato flavor just does not get any better than the Husky Cherry Red.   Mildew…always attracts lots of mildew but always lots of tomatoes.

Sun Gold Cherry Tomato. Heirloom.  Pictured on the left…probably the easiest cherry tomato to grow, and it grows like a weed. The vines easily reach 12-15 feet producing lots & lots of tomatoes. This one grew up over the top of the cage & back down to ground level. For flavor—great flavor.

You are welcome to share this information with others—family, friends and clubs, etc.

Sharing tips helps us be better growers.

Dave Freed / 🍅 the Tomato Guy

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