Grow Space-Saving Tomatoes
By: Charlie Nardozzi
While everyone enjoys a large, ripe tomato straight from the garden, sometimes there's just not enough room in our small yards to grow the huge plants needed to produce those fruits. Luckily there are tomato varieties that are just right for someone with limited space. Whether you're growing just one cherry tomato plant in a raised bed for salads, or are squeezing in some bush varieties in a planter for sandwiches, there is a tomato for almost any situation.
Here are some of the best tomato varieties for small spaces and tips for growing them in containers.
The world of cherry tomatoes is colorful and diverse. You can grow red, pink, gold, and even black cherry tomatoes. What's great about cherry tomatoes is their productivity. You can feed an army of tomato lovers from a few plants. While most cherry tomato varieties are indeteminate plants (the plants keep growing larger and larger until frost, diseases, insects, or you stop them), there are some newer varieties that grow in a more compact form. If you want lots of tomatoes but only have room for one or two plants, grow some cherry tomatoes. Here are some of the best varieties to try.
'Sugary' - This very sweet, hybrid, red cherry tomato has fruit with a pointed end. It grows abundantly in clusters like grapes on a vine. This widely adapted plant grows more compact than most cherry tomato varieties.
'Small Fry' - This hybrid, red variety produces round, juicy fruits weighing less than 1 ounce. The compact plants are also disease resistant, making them good choices in hot, humid climates where diseases are a problem.
'Large Red Cherry' - These large, vigorous, indeteminate plants produce high yields of globe-shaped, red fruits with firm flesh.
'Black Cherry' - This new hybrid produces large, burgundy-colored, round cherry tomatoes on vigorous plants. The fruits have a wild, sweet, complex flavor. A real novelty!
'Sungold' - This classic hybrid gold cherry tomato produces an abundance of some of the sweetest fruits on the market.
'Patio' - This hybrid is a great container tomato. It grows only 2 feet tall and wide and produces red tomatoes that are a little larger than regular cherry tomatoes. The plants are also disease resistant.
For years the holy grail of tomato breeding has been a bush plant that produces abundant fruits. Full-sized plants take up too much room, and dwarf plants don't produce fruits for long periods of time. Recently the quest has been reached. There is a new group called "dwarf-indeterminate" tomatoes. These plants stay bushy (less than 3 feet tall) like dwarf plants but keep producing lots of fruits until frost like indeterminate plants. Here are a few varieties to try:
'Bush Celebrity' - 'Celebrity' is a well-known, tasty, red variety that is widely adapted. 'Bush Celebrity' features the same high quality, 7- to 8-ounce fruits, but grows on only a 15-inch-tall, disease-resistant plant.
'Husky Gold' - These disease-resistant plants grow 2 to 3 feet tall and produce flavorful, golden-colored, 5- to 7-ounce fruits.