There are far more types and varieties of tomato available than you will find in your local grocer or supermarket, those available in the shops are in general grown for their keeping and travelling qualities and in the main will be grown using chemical fertilisers and pesticides. When growing your own tomatoes you have a much greater choice of tomato types and varieties and your main concerns will be taste, quality and ease of growing.
As already mentioned with such a large number of different varieties to choose from you are bound to find one or two to suit your personal tastes and circumstances. Some produce standard and consistent fruit similar to those we find in the shops but with a far superior taste, while others have a greater variety in size and shape and even colour. Some varieties are more suited to a greenhouse environment while others will survive and thrive outdoors even in our British climate.
There are three main tomato types, which are Indeterminate (Cordon), Determinate (Bush) and Dwarf Bush (Hanging basket) each of which has different growing requirements and meet different needs of the home grower.
These are the tall tomato varieties that need to be supported, usually by tying to a cane or by a string. The side shoots are removed and depending on your climate after a number of trusses (the flower stems) are set i.e. have fruit forming, the top is removed to cause the plant to use its energy to develop and ripen the fruit before the end of the season. This removal of the top is referred to as stopping.
Cordon / Indeterminate tomatoes generally have fruit that ripen at different times on the same plant hence the name indeterminate, these are also the most commonly grown types of tomato.
These differ from Cordon Types in that generally they do not need much in the way of support nor do they need the side shoots removing or stopping making for much less maintenance. This needs to be weighed against the drawbacks such as the fact that the fruit are close to the ground (or even touching it), this makes them much more vulnerable to pests etc. Another problem is that the fruits on one bush can ripen all at the same time leading to a glut or in bad years lead to underdeveloped unripened fruit, this situation can be avoided by starting them off early.
Dwarf Bush (Hanging Basket).
These are smaller plants than the normal determinate varieties of tomato. They have been bred to be grown in containers such as hanging baskets, being smaller plants they produce smaller fruits often called Cherry Tomatoes.