FAQ #2: How do I know if a tomato is determinate or indeterminate? How do I support my tomatoes? Can I grow them in containers?

A determinate tomato is a type of tomato that has all of its fruit ripen at once. They usually grow to about 4 to 5 feet tall, and then stop growing while they spend all of their energy on fruit production. They are great for canning since they ensure you have a large harvest all at once. They can be grown without staking, but the fruit quality will be better if cages, stakes or a small trellis are used.  Indeterminate tomatoes keep growing until they succumb to frost or a disease. In a warm climate, they are actually perennials and can grow into trees. Indeterminates ripen all season long and give you a more sequential harvest with one or two tomatoes ripening a day during peak harvest.

In general, space tomato plants at least 2' apart, preferably 3' or more apart.  Support both kinds; pea fences or hardwood stakes work nicely on determinates; indeterminates keep growing up and out and need more support, such as hardwood stakes positioned so that as the tomatoes grow, trellising can be added with hemp twine.

Check out this video to see a method we like for trellising tomatoes:

Weaving Tomatoes

Round tomato cages are great for peppers and eggplants.  One of our customers designed a portable one-tomato planter with a five gallon bucket, drilled 3 holes about 2 inches from the bottom for a water reservoir, and screwed two hardwood stakes to opposite sides of the bucket for plant support.