Looking for the best tomatoes to grow?
We’ve put together a short list of the best tomatoes to grow. Or, at least these are our favorites. And, we’ve been growing tomatoes for decades. So, we’ve included some sugary cherries, succulent slicers, all-purpose all-stars, container performers, and pastes with aplomb. Plus, we’ll even discuss tomatoes you can grow in winter.
And, where do these grow best?
Our all-star tomato list includes tomatoes that perform in cool, wet, short seasons. That’s because we’ve been growing tomatoes for years in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. But, we also know about growing tomatoes in the southern US. And, we’ve cultivated tomatoes all over California. So, let us help you take the guess-work out choosing which tomatoes to attempt to grow.
Our favorite cherry tomatoes.
If you don’t have much time or experience growing tomatoes, cherries may be your best bet to start. That’s because cherry tomato fruits are tiny, so they ripen fast. And, that means your success if fairly simple. That being said, the variety you choose can make a difference.
The cherries that make our best-of list.
Instead, consider good old ‘Sungold’. It is hands-down our favorite cherry for performance and flavor. This indeterminant variety may put on a lot of green growth, but that is equally matched with abundant, candy-like fruits throughout the season, and those fruits aren’t likely to do much cracking.
The tiny tomatoes we’d skip.
- Pear shaped cherries tend to split a lot, which means lots of yucky fruit.
- Heirloom ‘Black Cherry’ is fairly flavorless and more likely to put on a lot of green growth and not many ripe fruits. So, maybe skip those.
Need to grow in a pot? Consider the semi-determinant ‘Gold Nugget,’. It isn’t quite as sweet as orange-yellow ‘Sungold’, but it produces very well both in the ground and in a pot.
Growing more cherry tomatoes than you know what to do with?
Don’t let those cherry tomatoes drop and rot on the ground. Even if you can’t eat all of them fresh, it’s incredibly easy to freeze them to use in soups, stews and braises come winter. Learn how easy it is to preserve your cherry tomatoes.
Best slicer tomatoes in our book:
Growing big, fat slicers that actually ripen in the PacNW can be tough. And, if you choose tomato varieties that weren’t developed for cool and wet summers, you’re probably going to run into problems. However, there are several slicing tomato cultivars that actually do turn red and taste great in the Pacific Northwest.
- Skip the generic ‘Beefsteak’ and dull ‘Early Girl.’
- Don’t be lured in by readily available ‘Stupice.’ While the fruits may ripe, they’re small and kind of tasteless.
- Instead look for varieties like ‘Siberia, ‘Legend,’ ‘Peron’ and ‘Oregon Springs.’
These cool season choices produce large, tasty orbs that ripen even in a short, cool growing season. In fact, that’s exactly what they’ve been bred to do. And, if you follow our month-by-month cool season tomato growing care guide you might really rock the tomatoes this year.
Get more of our best tomato tips:
If you aren’t growing your tomatoes from seed, pick up starts from a local grower or nursery that supplies locally-grown starts. If the plant was cultivated in, say, SoCal, it may not be right for your NW garden. And, sometimes stores with massive supplies do bring in their tomatoes from far away.
And if you want to learn more from us, sign up now to be notified when we open enrollment for our online gardening lessons programs. That way you’ll have a chance to work with our proven lessons to get past your biggest gardening challenges fast!
What about other tomatoes to grow in containers?
So, we have already talked about container cherry tomatoes, but what if you want a slicer tomato? And, you need to grow it in a pot. Hands-down, Super Bush is the way to go. A few years ago Renee’s Garden Seeds sent us some free trial seeds for the variety ‘Super Bush.’ We grew these in containers, assuming they would produce cherry sized fruit.
Instead, we were rewarded with hardy, productive, plants that were content to be crammed in a pot with flowers. Each plant produced abundant clusters of big(ish) tomatoes with loads of flavor and delicate (but not cracking) skin. These aren’t quite beefsteak sized slicers, but they’re bigger than a small salad tomato like ‘Stupice.’
Since that first trial planting, we’ve continued to grow Super Bush in pots.
All purpose tomatoes to grow:
Some tomato varieties are multi-purpose. That means they’re delicious fresh off the vine on a sandwich. Or, they work well cut into a salad. Plus, these plants create fruit that juices, freezes, cans and dries equally well.
‘Gill’s All Purpose’ lives up to it’s name. Gill’s fruits are delicious. Plus, the plants are large determinants. That means they grow big and offer lots of fruit. But, they don’t tend to spread all over the place. They have just enough juice, tangy-sweet flavor and not too many seeds.
What about growing tomatoes in winter?
Yes, you can grow a tomato to store fresh in your cellar in winter. Learn about growing and storing ‘Long Keeper’ tomatoes in your garden.
And, if you want to grow a tomato indoors in winter, ‘Red Robin’ cherry tomatoes might be for you. Or better yet, try ‘Lil’ Bites’. We’ve grown this tiny container cultivar as a perennial! Yep, tomato plants can live all year! For this one, we’ve seeded in February into pots. Then we let it thrive outdoors all summer. But before the weather turns cold, we bring the containers inside. And by putting this small bush in a bright, south-facing window, we’ve harvested handful after handful all winter long. So a single plant can easily live for more than a year. And it gives fruit the entire time. Plus, they taste good and have fine texture too.
Are you a chef seeking paste tomatoes?
Paste tomatoes are the best cooking tomatoes. Not only to they cook up into a sauce beautifully. But, you can also dry, freeze and make tomato paste with them.
Our favorite paste tomato varieties are ‘Saucy Paste’ and ‘San Marzano.’ The former produces prolific numbers of tomatoes that have decent flavor; the later is famed for its flavor but may need a little more TLC for an abundant crop.
Having Blossom End Rot problems with your tomatoes?
Any tomato can suffer from blossom end rot. But, paste tomatoes seem to have a strong tendency. But, it’s manageable. In fact, it often seems like the first tomato or two to ripen on a paste vine get the problem and then it pretty much goes away. Still, if any of your tomato fruits are suffering from end rot, here’s how we manage blossom end rot in tomatoes.