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What is the difference between "determinate" and "indeterminate" tomatoes?
Determinate varieties of tomatoes, also called "bush" tomatoes, are varieties that are bred to grow to a compact height (approx. 4 feet).
They stop growing when fruit sets on the terminal or top bud, ripen all their crop at or near the same time (usually over a 2 week period), and then die.
They may require a limited amount of caging and/or staking for support, should NOT be pruned or "suckered" as it severely reduces the crop, and will perform relatively well in a container (minimum size of 5-6 gallon). Examples are: Rutgers, Roma, Celebrity (called a semi-determinate by some), and Marglobe.
Indeterminate varieties of tomatoes are also called "vining" tomatoes. They will grow and produce fruit until killed by frost and can reach heights of up to 10 feet although 6 feet is considered the norm. They will bloom, set new fruit and ripen fruit all at the same time throughout the growing season.
They require substantial caging and/or staking for support and pruning and the removal of suckers is practiced by many but is not mandatory. The need for it and advisability of doing it varies from region to region. Experiment and see which works best for you. Because of the need for substantial support and the size of the plants, indeterminate varieties are not usually recommended as container plants. Examples are: Big Boy, Beef Master, most "cherry" types, Early Girl, most heirloom varieties, etc.
What should I do to make my soil perfect for my vegetables?
How you prepare your plot for this year’s gardening depends upon what you have done in prior years. We all have the same inorganic (sand, silt, clay) soil components, but some of us have added compost, manure or other organic matter to improve the soil. Organic content should be between 4 and 8 percent. UConn tests soils for a very low fee ($8.00 for full nutrient analysis; $8.00 for organic content). They return test results within two weeks and give you recommendations on improving your soil.
Plant roots need to have access to air and water, so after the soil dries out from the spring rains, you should ensure that there is no soil compaction by turning your soil with a spade or pitchfork and then raking it over. That is a good time to remove stones that have surfaced over the winter.
When your soil has good porosity, balanced pH, propery amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and organic matter, all you have to do is water, weed and hope for plenty of sunlight and very few bugs to get a great crop this year.