How many tomatoes to grow for canning (growing zone 4b/5a, North MI)

Amy Wickett
March 4, 2019
last modified: March 4, 2019

Growing season is about 120 days; main growing season normally starts at end of May (Memorial day) and ends in Sept-Oct. (for warm weather stuff).

Don't plan to use for canning, but plan to use for sauce/puree. Doing sauce takes a lot of time and effort so want to do in lg. batches (lg.=4-8 lbs. per batch).

Next question is how to extend harvest. Indeterminate normally used for this, but they take up a lot of space. Trellising would help w/this, but would add to expense, and don't want to spend a lot on gardening.

If I did varieties that mature at different times (an early, mid-season, and late) and stagger harvest would this work to extend harvest/season?

Last but not least-would like recommendations for determinate type orange, red, and yellow roma varieties that taste good (don't want watered down taste) disease resistant, and produce a decent amount per plant.

Comments (3)

  • John D Zn6a PIT Pa

    I'm confused whether you want to can these or just make a fresh tomato dish.

    If you want a sauce tomato I'd suggest Roma, determinate, or San Marzano, an indeterminate. For canning my neighbor cans a lot and buys plants from Burpee's. She uses SuperSauce an indeterminate.

    I would suggest Dester and Belgian Gigant, Giant Belgium, which both produce a lot of tasty tomatoes. For fresh eating I'd suggest Pink Brandywine which doesn't produce a lot of tomatoes, so suggest for fresh eating only. I'd also suggest Mortgage Lifter because it's been my first producer the last two years. For a yellow tomato I'd suggest Kellogg's Breakfast. It's a vigorous grower with lots of tomatoes. I grow it because I have a heart burn problem. Some say not to can yellow tomatoes, but some say there's no difference in acidity. I grow two plants in case I can't eat the red tomatoes.

    We made a pasta dish this evening from both a canned red tomato and Kellogg's Breakfast. Sweet peppers, onions and sweet sausage.

    I experimented last season with planting out 4 tomato seedlings two to four weeks late so that they start producing later. I planted them in mid June and they started producing in September. Big crops of big tomatoes like I usually see when a plant first starts production.

    For beefsteaks I'd suggest at least 3 foot spacing, maybe 4 feet, but I've planted 4 in an eleven foot garden.

  • cindy_7

    For processing I love to use Wessel's Purple Pride. It's a cross created with Cherokee Purple and Green Sausage. It's a heavy producer of paste type tomatoes and produces until frost with wonderful flavor.

    Another great red beefsteak is Neve's Azorean Red. However, it is a later producing variety. Beefsteak may be good for your area as well as Pale Perfect Purple, both good producers.

    I have not had much luck with any Roma variety I've ever tried to grow. Not sure what the problem is. Others rave about them.

  • nancyjane_gardener

    You should probably talk to some master gardeners or extention office in your area. I have about a 6 month growing season as opposed to your 4 month season. I gardened with someone about a mile away my first year here and got half a dozen tomatoes....last year we planted 3 tomato plants with nothing but a little root enhancer, and were overwhelmed by just those 3 plants! We are going to 5' concrete wire tomato cages this year!

    It really all depends on your climate, soil where you are (We have little humidity, so low on fungal stuff)

    Good luck and have fun! Nancy

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