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Indeterminate Tomatoes can grow to between 1.8–3 m tall. They continue to produce fruit throughout their growing season and finish up in autumn. With luck, you may find cherry tomatoes will continue to produce until it becomes too cold. Popular indeterminate varieties include Big Beef, Moneymaker, Sweet 100 and Grosse Lisse.
A feature of indeterminate tomatoes is that they produce ‘lateral’ side shoots which sprout from where the leaves join with the main stem. It’s best to pinch these laterals out before they become monstrous unsupported branches, so the plant can put all its energy into growing delicious trusses of fruit. You’ll need to check for laterals often, they can grow huge very quickly. If you snip off laterals neatly with secateurs, you can also plant them as cuttings!
All indeterminate tomatoes require tall stakes, tripods, or tomato cages for support. You can also suspend them from hanging plant tie or string, by spiral wrapping it around the tomato stem as it grows. Soft, stretchy cotton plant tie is excellent for this as it copes with the weight of a vine fully laden with fruit.
If you'd like to give heirloom tomatoes a go, we have a great new (actually very old) variety to try. Yates® Heirloom Tomato 'Yellow Pear' is an absolute classic variety with bite-sized, bright yellow pear-shaped fruit. it's vigorous and productive, with sweet tasting fruit.
If you appreciate a bit of variety, we also have Yates® Tomato 'Heirloom Favourites'. It's a special lucky dip selection of heritage tomatoes, in a range of vibrant colours and mouth-watering flavours. These time honoured favourites taste the way tomatoes should!
Determinate Tomatoes generally grow to about 0.5-0.6 m tall (a few varieties get above 1 m tall). They produce fruit that mature all around the same time (generally over a 2-3-week period). Once they’ve finished fruiting, the plant won’t continue to produce and will slowly decline in vigour, so it’s best to remove them once they’re done. On the plus side, you won’t need to remove any laterals from determinate tomatoes.
Due to their height, they don’t require staking, but you can still prop them up with stakes or a cage made from sturdy chicken wire. This is a good safeguard on windy sites or if the plant is heavily laden with fruit. Yates varieties include Small Fry, Patio, and Roma (Roma is a fantastic variety for saucing).
Tomatoes happily grow in all climate zones of New Zealand. In subtropical and temperate climates, sow from early spring. In the cold winter zone, sow from late spring. To get a head start on the season, you can sow seeds indoors in late winter and transplant them into pots or garden beds once the last chance of frost has passed. Wait until seedlings are at least 5 cm tall before transplanting.
Choose a spot in full sun – at least 6-8 hours a day. Ideally the position will be sheltered from strong winds. Practice crop rotation; don’t plant tomatoes in the same place as last year - leave the spot to rest for 3 years before you plant tomatoes there again. For crop rotation, group tomatoes with potatoes, capsicums, eggplants and chillies – they are all related members of the Solanaceae family, so don’t plant any of the family in last year’s position either. This makes certain there won’t be any diseases still lurking in the soil from last year’s crop.
Tomatoes grow best in rich, well-drained soil. Improve the soil with plenty of organic matter, like Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food. Dig in Yates Thrive Natural Garden Lime, which provides calcium for good fruiting and 'sweetens' the soil. If growing in pots, choose a generous pot at least 40 cm wide and deep, to prevent them from drying out too quickly. Fill with Yates Thrive Premium Potting Mix to keep tomatoes happy through the whole season.
Feed tomatoes regularly throughout the growing season with Yates Thrive Tomato Liquid Plant Food. This potassium-rich fertiliser will help promote healthy leaf growth and encourage lots of flowers that will turn into delicious, juicy tomatoes. Alternatively, you can use Yates Thrive Flower & Fruit Soluble Fertiliser – this product is very economical and delivers a great boost to plant growth and fruit.
Water regularly throughout the growing season. Add a layer of organic mulch, like pea straw, to help retain soil moisture and suppress weeds too.
As mentioned above, indeterminate tomatoes produce ‘laterals’ that you’ll need to remove by pinching them off with your thumb and index finger. If these laterals have already developed into thick shoots, use secateurs or a sharp blade to remove.
Pruning laterals prevents plants from growing unruly swathes of vigorous branches. It also increases air flow between leaves and stems, reducing the likelihood of diseases like Powdery Mildew.
If you don’t have room in your garden to grow tomatoes, grow them in pots! Choose smaller varieties.