The key to growing good tomatoes means having an understanding of tomatoes. If a tomato was a person and had a personality then it could be summed up like this. Tomato plants are greedy for food and water, fussy, constantly in an unkempt state, prone to illness, disinclined to perform, yet very lovable just the same. Get it right and you will be rewarded with quality tomatoes you simply cannot buy in stores anywhere.
Most people have never actually tried a juicy, vine ripened, full flavoured tomato and thus have never experienced the true taste of a tomato. Sadly, many people don’t like tomatoes and they cannot understand what all the fuss is about. Try a home grown, vine ripened tomato and you will understand why they taste so great. Store bought tomatoes usually have one thing in common. They are all harvested before fully ripened, often while still green and sold on so as to ensure a longer shelf life for the retailer. This is common business practice at the expense of the consumer, who is often left to eat a tasteless product that only looks good.
Selecting the right tomato to grow depends on your taste and timing. With about 8,000 varieties of tomatoes worldwide to choose from, the task may seem impossible, but it need not be.
The tomato plant Lycopersicon esculentum is from the family Solanaceae, or nightshade family. The tomato plant is a close relative of both potato and eggplants. They can usually be divided into 4 groups:
These types of tomato are generally considered a true salad tomato because of their high juice content. If sliced in half, as in lopping the head off, one can find “pockets” of seed and juicy pulp. Rouge De Marmande (Italian Tomato) is one such tomato. These tomatoes are a pink colour and ribbed.
SAUCING OR PASTE TOMATOES
While this family of tomatoes can be eaten fresh or in salads, they are most renowned for preserving due to the thick wall, few to no seeds, and flavoursome, dense pulp. They are often small to medium in size and oval shaped. Varieties of these include: San Marzano, Roma and Principe Borghese.
Biggest family and biggest sized tomatoes around. Great for slicing in sandwiches, stuffing, stews, roasting and in salads. The name beefsteak comes from the marbled appearance of this type of tomato when sliced. While there are differences from variety to variety of beefsteak tomatoes, they are nearly always thick on pulp, low on seed content and usually quite large. They hold their shape well once sliced and do not easily become soggy. A firm tomato that can become soft and tender if allowed to over-ripen. Varieties of Beefsteak include: Big Beef, Bragger, Mortgage Lifter, Beefsteak, and Moonshot.
The higher sugar levels in these tiny tomatoes make them a favourite with children and breeze when preparing a quick salad. Every year the family of this type of tomato is growing both in popularity and variety. Some of these varieties include: Cherry Tomato, Tommy Toe, Tiny Tim, Yellow Pear, Red Grape and Yellow Grape, Tumbler, and Sweet Bite.
If you reside in Australia, then throughout the months of September, October and November you can easily find a tomato that suits your taste. Do some homework, shop around in your local nursery and you will be sure to come with a tomato you will thoroughly enjoy growing and eating.