Help me pick tomatoes for next year!

laurell(8 - Washington)March 21, 2012

So I have a 4x8' raised bed that I've designated for tomatoes interplanted with peppers. Last year was my first go-round with a hoop house (just PVC with plastic sheeting) and it was a wild success. Well, at least for me! I didn't get started as soon as I wanted, but I still had SOME non-cherry tomatoes that were ripe prior to frost, and I had a TON of great green tomatoes for frying. My plan this year (for a more orderly bed) is to use the 6' tall trellis on one of the 4' ends that I can string up however I want (using eye hooks) so I plan to plant 2 varieties of indeterminate tomatoes(1 of 1 variety and 2 of another) along the 4' span and twist them along vertical cord. I want to plant the rest of the bed with short-season determinate varieties. I've included a link to an old blog post from when I built them for a better understanding of the trellis system. All-out full sun all day long, no shade, no mercy.

The seed packets that I have (and would like to choose from for the trellis portion as all are indeterminate) are:

Cherokee Purple (75 days)

Green Zebra (75 days)

Persimmon (80 days)

I'm leaning towards the zebras and persimmons.

What are your suggestions for a few nice varieties of determinate short-season tomatoes? I'd prefer heirloom if possible.

Here is a link that might be useful: My raised beds

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indeterminate tomatoes...and twist them along vertical cord

There are a lot of innovative things done with tomatoes, but this is a new one on me.

You might get the tomato plants to stay on the vertical cord, but once the tomatoes become weighty, the whole plant will sag down. If knot your vertical cords every few inches and actually tie off the tomato vines just above the knots at a branch or large leaf node, it might all stay in place, otherwise it is a house of cards. New tomato growth is easily broken, trying to weave it into a grid of cords would be tricky also.

It would seem you will be training the indeterminates to mostly two dimensions, to conform with the trellis. That will require a lot of branch removal on a normally 3-dimensional tomato plant. Persimmon is an excellent tomato, but it has not borne tomatoes heavily here and I would want to keep as many branches as possible.

Your wooden structure is excellent (level and plumb). It has apparently worked through three seasons, but I would check every year for looseness of the lag bolts connecting the 6-foot trellis to the 12-inch raised bed. Wind and a trellis full of leaves will put quite a strain on the bolts. A diagonal brace on each side might be needed eventually.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 11:28PM
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janezee(Sunset 5, 8b, Whidbey WA)

The vertical string method is widely used in greenhouses. I'm attempting it this summer, too. It does need a lot of pruning, but with our problems with late blight, I'm guessing that that's a good thing.

For determinates in Washington, I'm trying Yamal, Skorospelka, Fruehe Liebe, Ida Gold, Moravsky Div, Kimberley, Sophie's Choice, Cosmonaut Volkov, and Remy Rouge. Several are available through Tatiana's Tomatobase, Which is a great resource for information, too.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 6:20PM
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After viewing some vertical twine methods on the Internet, I got the impression the vine wrapping needs to be done often and is labor intensive. Works well for those putting in the time to pinch, prune, and twine-wrap throughout the season.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 12:35AM
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If we have another cool summer it might be a good idea to grow one cherry type tomato. Your almost assured to get some of those.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 6:11PM
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laurell(8 - Washington)

Regarding the trellises, they are super sturdy, just as strong as they were when I first built them. They were a smart choice, though I'm trying cotton cord over twine this year, by the end of the season the twine starts breaking.

Regarding the string twisting method, "how its made" or one of those similar shows did greenhouse grown tomatoes and they said that they merely prune and twist them once a week. I'm usually out prodding and poking the garden a few times a week through the growing season of tomatoes so I'm not too worried about tending to 3 plants.

Janezee- thanks for the suggestions! I will start researching them! Are you starting from seed or putting in purchased starts?

Vinnybob- good call on a cherry variety. I will definitely put a couple in there so come September when I don't have any "grown up" tomatoes I won't be considering impaling myself on a bamboo stake.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 12:14AM
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