When it comes to choosing tomato seeds there are many synergies with choosing tomato plants. The reason is pretty obvious and that is the seeds will eventually become plants.
There are a few more things to consider than when choosing plants and the first and most important one relates to cultivating tomatoes from your own seed. Never try and cultivate seeds that have been recovered from the ‘hybrid’ varieties of tomatoes. These have been specially developed for specific characteristics and cannot simply be used to grow tomatoes in a domestic environment. They just will not grow into a plant.
That said, you are probably wondering which tomatoes can be used to harvest your own seed for cultivating and the answer is pretty much any of the others. Some are easier than others and the most popular seeds cultivated by gardeners are the heirloom varieties. You can of course buy hybrid seeds from suppliers and be very successful with them, but just don’t forget that extracting the seeds from the subsequent fruit is not really an option.
Picking up on the ‘some are easier than other’ point, the main reason behind that statement is that there are various levels of disease resistance present in tomato varieties. So assuming that most people will buy their seeds in a packet, you can take the precaution of checking that the seeds are resistant to the most prevalent tomato diseases of verticillum and fusarium wilt. Just look on the seed packet for information on disease resistance.
After that, it really is a consideration of the plants or seeds that are best suited to your requirements and location. Some things to consider:
- the climate where you live, short season needs early maturing and visa versa
- cordon or bush tomatoes, depends on available space
- cooking or salad tomatoes, some tomatoes are better for cooking and some are better in a salad or to accompany a burger for example
- taste and flavour, heirloom are known for their flavour, but typically do not store as well. Last years tastiest variety was identified as the Sioux Tomato by ‘Which’ magazine. So probably worth a punt this year as well.
Of course there is nothing to stop you growing a mix of tomatoes either. Perhaps you would like cherry tomatoes for your salads, plum tomatoes for cooking or beefsteak tomatoes for the perfect accompaniment for a burger. Be careful with the latter however, the bigger they are the longer they take to ripen. Have a look at this tomato planting schedule.
As you can see choosing tomato seeds really is just a matter of applying a little common sense, but if all else fails you can usually rely on your local garden centre to be stocking varieties that will flourish in your area.