Home & Garden

WSU Extension Q&A: Find the differences between determinate, indeterminate tomatoes

Q. What is the difference between determinate and indeterminate tomatoes?

A. 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 short, making them good choices for canning. Indeterminate tomatoes continue to grow, flower and set fruit until killed by the first frost. Thus, the harvest from indeterminate varieties often extends across two or three months. Yields are generally heavier, but are usually later to mature. Indeterminate tomatoes are tall, sprawling plants that often perform best when supported by stakes or a tall wire cage.

Q. I just bought a new steam canner. Can I use the same processing times that are listed for boiling water canners?

A. No, the foods processed in a steam canner using the processing time for a boiling water canner will be under-processed and unsafe. There is no research-based processing times for steam canners. Steam canners are marketed as an alternative to the boiling water canner for processing acid foods. However, the two pieces of equipment are not equal, nor interchangeable. The studies available show steam canners heat less effectively than a boiling water canner.

The good news is, research is under way to develop processing times for acid foods in steam canners. Our recommendation is to put the steam canner on the shelf and use a water bath canner until we have the research necessary to guarantee the safety of your home-canned products using that piece of equipment.

Q. I planted grapes this spring. When can I expect my first crop?

A. If they are pruned and trained properly, a small crop can be taken in the third year.

Q. How do I get 4-H publications and curricula?

A. 4-H curriculum is available to everyone. The collection of resources for 4-H experiential learning is constantly expanding. You don’t have to be part of a traditional club to use materials developed for 4-H. Many publications may be bought from National 4-H, www.4-h.org/resource-library. Others may be ordered from WSU Extension at http://pubs.wsu.edu. Some publications may be on hand at your local Extension office. Availability of publications will vary.

-- Questions should be called in to the WSU Extension offices in Kennewick at 735-3551 or Pasco at 545-3511.