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Tomato Gardening: Should I Plant Heirloom or Hybrid Tomatoes?

Tomatoes come in many different varieties, which can make it difficult to know which ones you should plant. One method of categorizing the different varieties is by heirloom and hybrid. Let’s take a look at these two classifications and identify some of the pros and cons of each.

Heirloom Tomatoes 

Heirloom Tomatoes

Although the definition of what constitutes an heirloom tomato varies slightly by source, in general, heirloom tomatoes are varieties that have been unchanged for at least 50 years. Oftentimes, they are hand selected by gardeners in an area, and the seeds are passed down through the generations. Heirloom tomatoes are open-pollinated, which means that they do not use human intervention, but instead rely on insects or wind. Some of the most popular heirloom varieties include: Italian Heirloom, Amish Paste, Gold Medal, Black Cherry, and San Marzano.

Heirloom tomatoes are usually regarded as better tasting. Additionally, since they can be more fragile than hybrid tomatoes, they are often grown locally where they can ripen on the vine before being sold. This creates an even better flavor. Heirloom tomatoes are also more unique. They can be a wide range of sizes and colors. This may not sell well in the supermarket, but many gardeners love the variety.

There are some downsides to heirloom varieties. They typically produce significantly less fruit than hybrid varieties. They are also more susceptible to various diseases and funguses that have been carefully controlled in hybrids. Oftentimes, this means that heirloom tomatoes will split or crack open. The fruit size and shape is also highly variable, so the harvest may be very unpredictable.

Hybrid Tomatoes

For hybrid tomatoes, breeders cross-pollinate two varieties of tomato plants with the goal of creating a new plant that contains the best qualities of the two parent varieties. The parent plants are selected for their good traits like big fruit size, resistance to certain diseases, higher yield, uniform appearance, early maturity, and firm flesh for transportation. In hybrid tomatoes, the pollination is very carefully controlled so that the right plants are crossed, and it may take many years of careful breeding to develop a great hybrid. Popular hybrid varieties include: Big Boy, Celebrity, Early Girl, and Juliet

Hybrids have a lot of benefits. They tend to look very uniform and desirable. Commercial farmers typically grow hybrids because the yields are so much higher and because the thicker skin will hold up to transporting and processing. Hybrid tomatoes also do much better against diseases.

While hybrids have many wonderful qualities, great flavor may not always be the highest trait on the list for breeders. This means that although they look great and are easier to grow, they may lack some of the amazing flavors of heirloom varieties. Since the majority of supermarkets get commercially grown hybrid tomatoes, chances are good that they were also picked green and shipped before fully ripe. This can affect the flavor expectations from hybrids.

Growing the Best Tomatoes

When it comes down to what variety you should plant in your personal garden, it might be most satisfying to plant some of each. An heirloom variety can add flair and flavor to your garden, and a hybrid will give you a good, reliable harvest. Whichever variety you choose, remember that in order to grow the best tomatoes, you need the best tomato fertilizer. Dr. JimZ Tomato Secret provides a superior blend of natural ingredients that builds up the soil and delivers direct nutrition to the plants. The secret to growing beautiful, juicy tomatoes is Tomato Secret.


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