Growing Tomatoes 101

Roma tomato San Marzano

Roma tomato ‘San Marzano’

by Pat Dickey, Fairfax Master Gardener
One of the most enjoyable experiences of summer is the mouth-watering taste of a fresh tomato. Without much effort, you can grow tomatoes in your home or community garden. There is still time to plant them in June, since we have a long growing season in our area. Begin by selecting the type of tomato that you most like to eat.

If you want to make fresh tomato sauce, grow paste or Roma tomatoes, such as San Marzano. For snacking and salads, plant cherry tomatoes like Sun Gold or Red Cherry. For sliced tomatoes, try larger varieties like Cherokee Purple or Mortgage Lifter. If you enjoy Mexican cooking, plant tomatillos (husk tomatoes) in green or purple varieties. Be sure to read the tag on the plants when purchasing them.

Determinate tomatoes produce their fruit all at once, while indeterminate ones will give you tomatoes all during the growing season. Hybrids with notations of V, F, N or T are resistant to viruses, fungus, and nematodes, but may not have the taste of heirloom varieties.