How do I Choose the Best Tomato Seeds?

Jeri Sullivan

Choosing the best tomato seeds requires an understanding of tomato varieties, weather conditions in the intended garden area, and the soil and space available for the vegetable garden. It is also helpful to know what the tomatoes will be used for. Tomato plants produce significantly different texture and tastes and not all types of tomatoes work well with all applications.

Grape tomato seeds might be the best choice if space is liimited.
Grape tomato seeds might be the best choice if space is liimited.

The most important decision when choosing tomato seeds is variety. Tomato cultivation is not a difficult process but there are many diseases that can prevent your tomato seeds from growing to full maturity. Choose seeds that are made to resist the common diseases such as verticillium and fusarium wilt. The seed packets will indicate whether the seeds are resistant.

Yellow tomatoes.
Yellow tomatoes.

Growing tomatoes suitable for the climate is also a key to successful gardening. Tomato seedlings are typically sensitive to cold weather, which requires gardeners to know what growing zone they live in. This information is published by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and is called a hardiness zone map. Only choosing varieties developed for the intended area will ensure the tomato seeds will grow.

The proper soil is required to grow the best quality tomato plants. Regardless of the initial garden spot chosen, soil that has the proper nutrients increases the yield and ultimately the taste of the tomato. A soil that includes both compost and drainage material such as perlite or peat moss help retain moisture while preventing root rot. Choose a variety of seed that is proven drought resistant by checking the packaging. Drought resistance will be noted.

Space constraints should also be considered when choosing the best tomato seeds. If the garden area is small or container gardening is planned, the best tomato seeds to choose will be grape or roma varieties. These tomato plants only grow approximately 24 inches tall and do not spread out. If the available garden space is large, full-sized varieties such as beefsteak or Park's whopper are acceptable. These varieties can be several feet tall and more than two feet in diameter.

Tomato seeds should also be chosen based on the intended use of the harvested tomato. If the tomatoes will mostly be used in sandwiches, large tomatoes such as Better boy are best because the flesh is firm and the circumference is typically approximately the size of normal sandwich bread. If the tomatoes are to be canned or used in sauces, roma tomatoes work best because they do not break down but instead form a thick paste when cooked. For salads, grape or cherry tomatoes are the best to use because they are sweet and can be eaten whole.

Handful of peat moss, which is good for planting tomato seeds.
Handful of peat moss, which is good for planting tomato seeds.

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