There are several different types of tomatoes that are grown in the UK. Each type has several - maybe hundreds - of different varieties.
The basic types of tomato plants, are the bush tomato, the vine tomato and the trailing tomato. When we talk of different types of tomatoes on this section, we mean the different growth habits. For normal outdoor garden growing, the choice is normally between bush tomato plants and vine tomato plants. The trailing tomatoes are normal for use in a container such as a hanging basket or drooping over the rim of a patio pot.
An important difference between the bush or vine tomato, is their different habits and timing of fruiting. The fruits on bush tomatoes generally all mature at the same time or within a two - three week period. Vine tomatoes fruit successively throughout the summer. The bush tomato fruits can all be harvested in a short time span, so are good for preserving.
Trailing or hanging tomatoes also have a relatively short cropping window, though for longer than the bush tomatoes.
Bush tomatoes are dependable for outdoors, and are grown as a sprawling bush rather than up a cane or other support. They are often known as Determinate Tomatoes, for they grow to a specific height - around 1.4m (4 feet) tall) and do not continue growing upwards.
A central stake - inserted into the ground before the bush tomato is planted - can be used, then the plant can be supported by tying in with soft string or, with a circular cage of wide mesh or even pea and bean netting. (The fruits will normally grow through so can be picked easily)
Bush tomatoes are left to grow without any side shoots being removed or stopping of the plant.
The fruits are similar to the ‘Vine’ tomatoes in most respects. Several of the ‘cherry’ tomatoes are of the bush type.
Good varieties of Bush Tomatoes include…..
Cherry Cascade is one of the aptly named Cherry Tomatoes that grows in bush form. Sweet and Neat - is interesting as a cherry tomato - but with beefsteak shape! The Tumbling range of tomatoes are all bush - in that they need no side shoots removal - Tumbler still one of the best
Red Alert is a dependable bush style tomato and a good cropper.
Legend is the best Beefsteak Tomato in the Bush range, with Rio Grande being a good Plum tomato.
So described as they literally grow as a vine, will need supports, and will keep growing upwards until the first frost. 10 feet (3m) is the norm if allowed to continue growing, but they are normally ‘stopped’ after five trusses of fruit are formed.
Vine Tomatoes are normally grown tied to a long cane out of doors - or string support with overhear fastening. It is usual practice to regularly prune off side shoots as they appear. Incidentally, the detached side shoot root very easily if potted or placed in a propagator as for a softwood cutting.
An alternative method of growing, is to leave one or two side shoot to grow - so growing the plant as a branched cordon. The additional side shoots will also require support, and you should be able to get a larger - but slightly later crop with this method.
The Cherry Tomatoes - these come in a range of fruit
colour and flavours. All are easy to grow, and rarely grow more than
1.4m up a cane. They crop well and the bite-sized fruit are addictive!
Gardeners Delight is one of the older types - there is nothing wrong with that - and for a golden variety, then the conveniently named 'Golden Cherry' is superb.
The normal salad tomato is again covered in a range of colours - with the reds of course being the most popular.
Moneymaker and Alicante are often found as young plants in garden centres, or you can go for a specialty in any of the vegetable seed supplier's catalogues. Big Boy is also popular, together with the Beefsteak varieties.