Tomato terms you will need to know.

Determinate and Indeterminate refer to a tomato’s growth habit.

Determinate tomato plants tend to be more compact. They grow to a certain height, then flower and set all their fruit at the same time. The harvest period is short which is fine as these are the tomatoes used for sauces, pastes, and soups.

Indeterminate tomato plants continue to grow and produce fruit all season. Making them the perfect choice for supplying a steady supply of fresh fruit for salads and sandwiches all season long.


Heirloom refers to heritage.

Heirloom tomato varieties have been passed down through the generations. They have been grown without cross breeding for many years. Varieties are open-pollinated. Meaning you can save the seeds from the fruit, plant them and expect them to grow into new tomato plants. These are not your supermarket varieties.


Tomato Types

Paste/Plum Tomato – These are determinate plants, the fruit tends to have thicker walls, meaty flesh, and very few seeds. Making them perfect for sauces and soups. There are many different varieties out there and it really is all about your taste preferences.

To name a few favorites – Roma, San Marzano, Black Prince, Amish Prince, and Paisano

Slicing Tomato – These are indeterminate plants. They come in all sizes with meaty flesh an assorted flavors. They provide fresh fruit all season long to enjoy on salads and sandwiches or just by themselves.

To name a few of the most popular – Brandywine, Beefsteak, Cherokee Purple, Oregon Spring, Moskovich, Early Girl, Carbon, Celebrity, Paul Robeson, and many others

Cherry/Grape Tomato – The least fussy to grow of all tomato types. Most of these plants are indeterminate providing and abundance of sweet little snacks all season, they range from the size of a thumbnail to golf ball size. They make perfect additions to any salad, pasta dish, as snacks direct from the vine, and are great to use in salsas.

Lots of favorites in this category, but here are a few – Sungold, Sweet Million, Chocolate Cherry, Yellow Pear, Isis Candy, Oregon Cherry.



Tomato Planting and Care Instructions

As Spring brings glimpses of the sun, we get excited to get our garden started. Tomatoes are one of the most popular veggies to grow. They can be grown in small spaces and can be plucked right off the vine and added to any dish. Making them convenient and rewarding.



Where and When to Plant

We recommend planting tomato starts rather than beginning from seed. The season can be short in our region, starts provide a significant advantage to getting your garden started. Our garden center has an excellent selection of all types to choose from.

Tomatoes need warmth to grow, they cannot take frost. Plant tomato starts in late Spring to early Summer when the days and nights do not get below 60 degrees.

Choose a sunny spot that receives 6-8 hours of sunlight each day. The amount of sunlight they receive really does affect the flavor of fruit.

Regardless of whether you opt for planting in the ground or in containers, ensuring adequate support for your tomato plants is crucial. A variety of tomato support options are available, all serving the purpose of keeping your tomatoes well-supported and elevated from the ground.

Give your tomatoes room to grow, indeterminate tomatoes need to be about 3 feet apart while the determinate varieties tend to be more compact and need only 2 feet. Be sure to follow the planting instructions that come with each start.

When planting directly in the ground, be sure to incorporate high-quality organic garden compost or aged manure into the soil mix. For container gardening, your containers should be at least 24″ in diameter. Be sure to use high quality organic potting soil.

Adding lime and a starting fertilizer to the bottom of the hole before planting will help to raise the PH, increase calcium, and boost the intake of nutrients.

When planting tomato starts you should plan the start deeper than the soil line, bury about two thirds of the stem in soil. Tomatoes will grow roots from the stem and make your tomato very sturdy. This only works on tomatoes. Never use this method on other veggies.

Add a layer of mulch to help keep moisture in the ground.


Watering and Fertilizing Tomatoes.

Once planted, be sure to water the plants well to settle them in.

Tomatoes need consistent watering to prevent cracked skin and blossom end rot. When the top of the soil is dry to about one inch it’s time to water deeply. Watering in the morning is the most effective time as plants are more receptive to moisture.

Tomatoes are big eaters and should be fed regularly with an organic fertilizer designed specifically for tomatoes such as Espoma Tomato tone. Follow the instructions on the package for quantities and frequencies.


Harvesting Tomatoes.

From flower to full size fruit takes about 30-40 days depending on variety.

When the tomato reaches its desired ripeness, it will exhibit the vibrant color characteristic of its variety, such as red, purple, orange, or yellow, and will yield slightly to gentle pressure. It is important not to wait until it is soft.

Harvesting at the “Breaker Stage”, when the fruit is about halfway ripe, and allowing it to ripen off the vine will not diminish its flavor, quality, or nutritional value. Early harvesting can ease the burden on plants and lower the likelihood of fruit cracking.

Harvesting in the afternoon is best. The warmth of the afternoon will help enhance the flavor and aromas.

Do not store tomatoes in the refrigerator. The cooler temperatures diminish the flavor and slow down the ripening process. Tomatoes should be consumed or processed within 4-7 days.


Many gardeners have their own tried and true tips they have used for growing tomatoes, below is a list of our favorites.

  • Side dress with crushed eggshells or add while planting to add much needed calcium.
  • Add a pinch of Epsom salt when planting to increase root and cell development. It also helps to prevent blossom end rot.
  • Sid dress with liquid seaweed, fish emulsion, or compost tea to give extra nutrients.
  • Add two uncoated aspirins to the hole at planting time or dissolve them into a gallon of water then spray the young plants. This builds the plants’ immune system to better fight off early attacks of diseases and pests.
  • Plant basil or borage near your tomato to prevent hornworms and enhance the taste.
  • Withhold water for 3-4 days before harvesting. Tomatoes will be more flavorful.
  • Cut the bottom leaves off plants to improve circulation and prevent disease.
  • Red mulch increases the tomato harvest. the color reflects into the leaves which causes the plant to produce protein, speeding up the whole growing process. Also works with red peppers, melons, and strawberries.
  • In September cut the top of indeterminate plants and stop watering to force energy into the remaining fruit before the end of the season.
  • Around October before heavy rains uproot the plant and hang it upside down in the garage or a shed. Tomatoes will continue to ripen on the vine and you could have fresh tomatoes for Thanksgiving.


A lifelong Oregon resident, Drake has been passionate about plants since childhood, beginning with propagating and growing flowers at his grandfather’s nursery. He opened Drake’s 7 Dees in 1974, while earning degrees in Business and Horticulture from Oregon State University. He later expanded into the design/build side of the industry, allowing him to combine his passion for plants with his love of family by maximizing the quality of family time spent outdoors.

Drake is co-founder of the Oregon Landscape Contractors Association and is a Landscape Industry Certified Manager (LICM)—a designation that less than two percent of landscapers have attained. Additionally, Drake serves on the Board of Directors for the Portland Japanese Gardens, widely regarded as one of the seven best Japanese gardens outside of Japan.

Drake is married to former Oregon Speaker of the House, Lynn Snodgrass. Together, he and Lynn received the Farm Bureau President’s award in 1999 for their service and dedication to agriculture in the state of Oregon. Drake and Lynn have two wonderful daughters, two talented son-in-laws, and seven grandchildren. In his spare time, Drake enjoys camping, water and snow skiing, reading, and of course, gardening.

Born and raised in the Portland Metro Area… Tim has had an appreciation for the outdoors from a young age.  Inspired by our local beauty ranging: the Mt Hood National Forest to salty, sea spray of Cannon Beach, the arid high-desert of Central Oregon to the rugged terrain of Steens Mountain – Tim sought higher education at the University of Idaho in their Landscape Architecture department.  Graduating with honors in 2004, he returned home to establish his professional career.

Now making his home in Sandy, Oregon – Tim and his wife [Nicole] are raising two happy and healthy kiddos and 4 fur-babies.  Between soccer, football, cheerleading, girl scouts and other extra-curricular activities… the Sellin family are heavily involved in their community and church family.  Since college, Tim has spent 13 of his 17 years with Drake’s 7 Dees and has ‘set roots’ in anticipation of long-term growth at the family-focused company.  Having spent his time away from Drake’s in a ‘boots on the ground’ capacity, Tim has fostered a love for the operational/production side of landscape business, as well as the design/sales.

His goal in life as well as business is to put others first.

Bachelor of Science Landscape Architecture, BSLA… 2009
California Polytechnic University, Pomona… Cum Laude
American Society of Landscape Architects – Honor Award

Steven has 15 years of experience in the residential landscape design/build and garden center industry, including 9 years with Drake’s 7 Dees. Steven also has experience working with the National Park Service in Yosemite on sub-alpine restoration projects, as well as volunteer experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer serving the community of Zaouiat d’Ifrane in Morocco.

Together, Steven and his wife Anna have four lovely children, all 5 years old and under! In his (very limited) spare time, Steven enjoys camping, hiking, archery hunting, and cooking. Steven’s passion for his work lies in helping others, through design to envision a more beautiful space that, once built, becomes a reality that improves their quality of life.