Tomato time is here for Iowa gardeners

Tomatoes are the most popular vegetable grown in the home garden. While tomatoes come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors, they have two types of tomato growth habits—determinate and indeterminate.

Tomatoes – Sow, Grow, Eat, and Keep from Human Sciences on Vimeo.

Determinate tomatoes are small, compact plants that grow to a certain height, then flower and set all their fruit within a short time. The harvest period for determinate tomatoes is generally four to six weeks, making them good choices for canning and fresh consumption. Indeterminate tomatoes continue to grow, flower and set fruit until killed by the first fall frost, producing yields that are slightly higher than determinate types. The fruit on indeterminate cultivars usually mature a week or two later than determinate tomatoes, but the harvest period often extends over two months. View the latest video to learn more tips on growing tomatoes.

The annual production total for tomatoes is 60 million tons. At this point in the growing season, gardeners may feel as though their garden alone is producing this quantity! A great way to enjoy tomatoes year round is with salsa. If you are canning salsa, it is very important that you follow a research-based, tested recipe.

If you don’t, the acidity level may not be high enough to kill harmful bacteria. If you have a family favorite salsa recipe that is not tested for canning safety, enjoy it fresh! Watch this educational salsa video to learn more about making salsa.

Review the ISU Extension and Outreach publication Preserve the Taste of Summer – Canning: Salsa for more canning information. Also, join the nutrition and wellness team during the complimentary Food Preservation 101 online class.

For those interested in learning more about gardening, contact your ISU Extension and Outreach county office for information about the Master Gardener program. Training begins across the state this fall.

The Sow, Grow, Eat and Keep quickinars are 5-15 minute online lessons of seasonally appropriate topics for the garden, food preparation and food preservation. Some of the upcoming topics include zucchini, apples and applesauce.

For additional resources and publications, visit the Sow, Grow, East and Keep webpage. Send your food or garden questions to [email protected].