Indeterminate Tomatoes

Quick Reference

Varieties:  Beefsteak, Cherry, Black Krim, Brandywine (yellow, pink), Cherokee Purple, Mortgage Lifter, Yellow Pear, Creole 

Harvest Type:  Indeterminate tomatoes provide a continuous harvest throughout the season.

Transplant/Direct Sow:  Direct sow or transplant. 

Many growers prefer to start plants indoors due to the long day-to-harvest time.

When to Plant:  Indoors 8-10 weeks before your average last frost date. Sow seeds directly when the soil is 70-90°F and after all danger of frost has passed.

Days to Germinate:  6-10 days

Days to Maturity:  70-80 days

Planting Depth:  ¼” deep.

Germination Temp:  65-90°F

Seed Spacing:  2 seeds per inch. Thin to 2-3’ apart

Row Spacing:  3-4' apart

Light:  Full sun

Soil pH:  6.2-6.8 pH

Water:  1- 1 ½” of water per week

Soil Temperature:  65-90°F

Fertilizer:  5-10-10 N-P-K ratio

Rotation:  Heavy feeder.  Rotate annually with root vegetables.

PLANTING AND CARE

Harvest Type

Indeterminate tomatoes produce their crop throughout the growing season and are amazing tomatoes for fresh food production and small-batch preserving. 

TIP: To increase yield for canning or preserving, plant twice as many indeterminate tomato plants as needed to feed one person for the whole year. Doing so allows the harvest quantity to increase so that you can freeze, can, or dry the tomatoes.

Transplant / Direct Sow

You can transplant or direct sow indeterminate tomato seeds. There is a time-saving advantage to starting seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last average frost date and then transplanting the seedlings to the garden 2-3 weeks after the last average frost-free date. Transplant seedlings when they are at least 4-5 inches tall.

TIP: Most tomatoes have a long days-to-harvest range. For that reason, it is faster to start your tomato seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last average frost date for your area. Transplant outdoors 2-3 weeks after the last average frost date. Doing so cuts 1.5-2 months off of the growing time.

When to Plant:

Plant seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last average frost-free date and sow seeds outdoors 2-3 weeks after the last frost-free date when the soil temperature is 70°F-80°F. or when the nighttime soil temperature stays above 55°F.

Days to germinate

It takes tomato seeds about 5-10 days to germinate.

Days to maturity

It can take as few as 60 days and as many as 120 days, depending on the tomato variety you plant.

TIP: Plant a variety of tomatoes until you discover which ones do the best in your area.

Planting Depth

Plant seeds at 1/4"

Germination Temperature Range

Tomatoes germinate when the temperature is 70-80°F and when the nighttime soil temperature is above 55°F.

Spacing Between Plants

Plant seeds 1" apart and thin as needed. Plant seedlings 3' apart in cages.

TIP: You will find it easier to control tomato growth and avoid many tomato pests if you grow tomatoes in cages or vertically rather than letting them sprawl.

Growing conditions

Tomatoes love fertile soil that does not have a lot of nitrogen. They like phosphorus and potassium and a little bit of nitrogen. Dig rows 2-3 feet deep and backfill with quality compost or dress the soil with fertilizer. Soil should hold water but also be well-draining. Plant tomatoes in full sun if you live in zone 9 or above; afternoon shade is good for many types of tomatoes.

Companion Plants

Eggplant, basil, peppers (sweet and hot) are all good companions for tomatoes.

Rotation

Rotate tomato crops each year with root vegetables to avoid pest issues and nutrient issues. Tomatoes are heavy feeders. 

Anticipated yields

Plan your garden yield at 4-6 indeterminate tomato plants per person for daily consumption, and expect about ten pounds of tomatoes per plant. There are many varieties of tomatoes. Some will take longer to produce a harvest than others. When grown in optimal conditions, a single tomato plant can produce 50 pounds of fruit or more. Part of that process is choosing the right tomatoes for your growing area.

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