Newly Registered
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Feb 01, 2010 3:38 pm
Location: West Hollywood

Complete NOOB trying to pick among five varieties

I am a serious home cook, but have never grown a plant before. I buy the basil plants from Trader Joe's 2-3 times per year, but usually they are dead by the second batch of pesto.

I now have a Topsy Turvey and am SO EXCITED to grow my own tomatoes. Here's the question -- I've been to all the local nurseries and here are the varieties I have to choose from:

Early Girl Improved

For someone who loves juicy sweet tomatoes, eats caprese with artisinal burrata 3+ times per week at home, has read all the instructions to grow tomatoes and is committed to following them, but has absolutely NO SKILLZ when it comes to keeping plants alive (at least the dog let me know when she needs food...), which of those five options will survive me and my little upside down planter (on the sunny back patio)?

I've read a lot of the threads on here, and I know many of you are fans of these, so your expert advise is wildly appreciated.

The Helpful Gardener
Posts: 7491
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2004 9:17 pm
Location: Colchester, CT

For me Early Girl almost always makes the garden, but that's because of the season here, and my want of getting tomatoes faster. You are in no way so restricted as I am by the thermometer, so perhaps that should not be the criteria for you.

If you are looking for an easy fast tomato, perhaps a cherry type would work? If you aren't married to the idea of a slicing tomato, cherries are prolific, vigourous and sweeter than most. Just a thought...

Another good bet is to find a good farmers market, find a tomato you really like, and start seeds from that. Now you know you got a locally succesful variety that you like the taste and look of, you can swap growing notes with a pro, and you have not had to listen to the personal biases of folks from other climes with no parallels to yours. Just another thought...

Glad to have you aboard... welcome!


Newly Registered
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Feb 01, 2010 3:38 pm
Location: West Hollywood

That was incredibly helpful. Thank you so much!n :D

Full Member
Posts: 47
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2009 2:30 pm
Location: Mokelumne Hill, CA

Welcome to the world of tasty tomatoes VJA!

Since we are in the neighborhood, here are some local resources:

In LA, general planting time for tomatoes is mid to late March. Planting sooner will not usually lead to faster bloom or fruit set. Tomatoes need the night time temperatures to stay above 50 F to thrive.

TomatoMania is a local plant sale event at the end of March where you can get a great selection of plants. The weekend event is in Reseda.


Another local supplier of quality plants is Laurel's Heirloom Tomato Plants in Torrance.


What she lacks in web site design she makes up in plant quality.

Here is a link to the tomato page with great descriptions (scroll down to see it): [url=https://heirloomtomatoplants.com/Heirloom%20-Tomato_Plants_Heirloom_Tomato%20_seeds.htm]Link[/url]

Here is a link to Laurel's container plant recommendations: [url=https://heirloomtomatoplants.com/Small%20Plants,%20Patio%20Garden%20Plants.htm]Link[/url]

BTW, not affiliated with either of these folks, just a happy customer.

One note of caution on the topsy-turvey in LA; the heat and low humidity of LA will need special considerations for a container with such a small root ball. Figuring out the correct watering schedule will be tricky and will change as the plant develops more leaves. Drip irrigation helps a lot with this.


Newly Registered
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Feb 01, 2010 3:38 pm
Location: West Hollywood

WOW! That is fantastic information. I was planning on planting this weekend, but it sounds like I should wait about six weeks. I will definitely go to the tomato event and check out the shop in Torrance. Very helpful.

Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7500
Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 7:02 pm
Location: El Cerrito, CA

I finally have a few minutes to respond to you. Sorry I haven't been able to sooner; a combination of suddenly accelerated job needs + my house being re-wired this week...power on and off...house walls being drilled through NOISE GACK!

But anyway...three pieces of advice:

1) The Sunset Western Garden Book. Sunset's climate zone system is much more refined and precise than the USDA hardiness zone system. Sunset has 29 climate zones in North America; the USDA has 11, maybe 12. Sunset will suggest varieties of tomato suited for your specific gardening climate zone. Sunset saved my...whatever :wink:...when I came to the Bay Area, land of winter rain :?:, from Atlanta, land of four normal seasons, after college. The 7th ed. of Sunset was published in 2001 and, since the 8th was published fairly recently, 7th ed's are available for very little $ on line. Take a look through one at the library or a Big Box store and then find one on line. (OTOH, if you look through one at that independent garden supply shop, BUY IT from them. They need the money and will love you for it; ask me how I know. W..... G..... still remembers, years later, that I bought Sunset from them lo many years ago.)

2) Your local *independent* garden-supply center. The knowledgeable staff here, as opposed to the "it's just a widget and it came from Headquarters" staff at Big Box stores, will know local gardening conditions PLUS the varieties that do well locally. These wonderful people will also be able to give you info on taste qualities, light/temperature needs, short/long season, etc. of those varieties.

3) Seed Savers Exchange, Decorah, Iowa: https://seedsavers.org offers approximately 10% of their varieties for sale every year to non-members. Since they have hundreds of varieties of many vegetables, esp. tomatoes, some of these might be of interest to you.

Happy gardening!

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

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