How to Grow Early Tomato Varieties

Tomato lovers are always eager to savor their first fresh tomato of the year. While most varieties take three months to produce, you can get the season started quickly by choosing early tomato varieties, and the best varieties are only available from seed started early indoors. Perusing the beautiful catalogs in January and February is one of gardener’s favorite activities, and the choices are nearly overwhelming.

The following varieties are primarily listed by use, but all mature much earlier than main season cultivars. Dates until maturity are the number of days until the plant start producing tomatoes from being transplanted into the garden or container. Tomatoes can be started inside in bright light 4 to 6 weeks before your last frost date. Most determinate tomatoes produce their fruit all at one time, or in a space of two weeks, and then stop producing. Make sure to protect tomatoes during a frost.

As with all tomatoes, even shorter plants grown in the ground or in containers benefit from staking. Hanging tomatoes tend to grow upwards until their own weight causes them to grow down, and it is best to keep them from touching the ground. Make sure to protect tomatoes during a frost.

Extra Early Tomato Varieties

Siberian Tomato is a determinate tomato that tolerates shade. The 3 to 5 ounce fruit is ready to pick 48
days from transplant. The 3 to 5 ounce fruit is ready to pick 48 days from transplant. (2)

Beliy Naliv Tomato is semi-determinate Russian heirloom producing in 55 days. The plants are 42 inches tall and produce 2 inch sweet, tangy red fruit. (4)

Buckbee’s New Tomato is an indeterminate variety maturing in 55 days. It produces abundant crops of red, 4 ounce fruit, and is good for shorter growing seasons. (4)

Elfin Tomato is a short, bushy determinate variety that produces in 55 days. The ¾ inch red fruit are very flavorful and crisp. (4)

Bloody Butcher Tomato is an indeterminate tomato producing in 55 days. It produces and abundant crop of 4 ounce fruit that are deep red with a rich heirloom flavor. It produces in clusters of 5 to 9 fruits until frost. (4)

Early Juice Tomatoes

Stupice Tomato is a cold tolerant indeterminate variety from the former Czechoslovakia. Its sweet, red, 2 inch fruit matures in 65 days and is perfect for salads, slicing, and juicing. It keeps producing abundantly throughout the summer. (1)

Black Prince Tomato is an indeterminate tomato maturing in 75 days. This variety is originally from Russia, and it performs well in cool weather. The juicy, round, 2 inch mahogany fruit have green shoulders even when ripe, and red striped flesh. (2)

Early Tomatoes for Upside Down Pots

Beaverlodge 6806 Plum Tomato is a determinate variety that matures in 55 days and is perfect tomato for hanging baskets, upside down pots or containers. The 2 1/2 inch long fruit is produced over an entire season on the compact, creeping plant. (1)

Beaverlodge 6808 Slicer Tomato is a determinate variety for hanging baskets or upside down containers, maturing in 55 days. These productive plants stay compact and creep rather than growing tall, producing 1 ½  inch round fruit. (1)

Glacier Tomato is a determinate variety which matures in 55 days. It produces sweet, orange-red 2 ½ inch tomatoes for eating fresh or in salads. It is a perfect container or and upside down containers tomato since it only gets 2 ½ feet tall and 3 ½ feet wide. (1)

Early Tomatoes for Containers

Bush Beefsteak Tomato is a short, 3 foot, determinate tomato that matures in 62 days. The 8 ounce beefsteak tomatoes are produces abundantly in clusters. This compact plant is good for containers and short growing seasons. (4)

Early Annie Tomato is a short determinate heirloom tomato maturing in 60 days. Its 3 inch, meaty red fruits are produced all at one time, are good for canning and for growing in containers. (4)

Lime Green Salad Tomato is a short semi-determinate heirloom tomato that begins producing 58 days. The 3 to 5 ounce fruits are chartreuse inside and amber-green outside, juicy and tangy. This variety produces abundantly in containers. (4)

Early Slicing Tomato

Legend Tomato is an early maturing slicing tomato, ready in 68 days. The sweet, slightly acid tomatoes are 4 to 5 inches and glossy red. This determinant tomato is resistant to late blight. (2)

Early Tomatoes for Cool Weather
Scotia Tomato is a determinate vine maturing in 60 days. It is very popular in maritime Canada since it sets firm, red tomatoes in cool weather. It dependably bears 4 ounce fruits for short gardening seasons. (1)

Sophie’s Choice Tomato is a determinate heirloom variety from Canada. This extra early variety produces large fruit and is extra early at 55 days. The large, orange-red fruit has exceptional flavor for an early tomato, and bears 8 to 12 ounce fruit. The plant is only 18 to 24 inches tall and does best in cool climates with plenty of moisture. (3)

Alaska Tomato is a semi-determinate heirloom variety from Russia maturing in 63 days. Also spell Aljaska, the medium-sized plants are bushy and produce large, flavorful, red cherry tomatoes good for salads. It is good for cool, windy areas. (4)

Manitoba Tomato is a determinate variety good for small gardens. The red fruit were developed in Canada and produce 6 ounce red fruits, growing well in cooler climates. (4)

Early Tomatoes for Short Growing Seasons

Early Wonder Tomato is a compact determinate that starts producing in 55 days. The flavorful, dark pink fruit are produced abundantly, even in shorter growing seasons. (4)

Northern Delight Tomato is a determinate tomato variety which matures in 65 days. It is a productive variety bred to produce in short seasons. The sweet, mellow, red fruit has a hint of acidity and is 1 ½ inch wide and 3 inches long. (1)

Early Paste Tomatoes

Martinos Roma Tomato is one of the earliest paste tomatoes, maturing in 76 days. It is easy to grow, and also good for canning or puree. (2)

Yellow Bell Tomato is an heirloom indeterminate variety from Tennessee. It is a yellow paste tomato which is also good for salads, yellow ketchup, juice, or preserves. The fruit is produced heavily, and in 5 to 12 per cluster. Does better in cool and wet conditions than most paste tomatoes, maturing in 60 days. (3)

Early Tomato for Drying

Principe Borghese Tomato is a grape sized plum tomato maturing in 75 days. Its 1 to ounce fruit have a low moisture content which make it perfect for drying. This determinant variety needs staked to support the heavy fruit production. (2)

Early Cherry Tomatoes
Glacier Tomato is a determinant variety, but it continues to produce all summer. The bright red 1 ¼ fruits are extra early at 58 days. This very productive variety has excellent flavor and is very cold tolerant. (3)

Gold Nugget Cherry Tomato is a sweet and flavorful  variety maturing in 60 days. The somewhat elongated fruit is crack resistant, and keeps producing until frost. (2)

Ildi Cherry Tomato is a 6 foot indeterminate heirloom vine that begins producing in 54 days and continues to produce abundantly until frost. These popular tomatoes are often sold at farmer’s markets as Yellow Grape. The very sweet, yellow tomatoes are produced abundantly in large bunches and are good for salads and snacking.

Early Heirloom Tomatoes

Zarnitsa Tomato is and heirloom variety, and its name means “summer lightening” in Cyrillic. It bears sweet, buttery, red 2 to 2 ½ fruit in 60 days. This short indeterminate variety needs staking, and the fruit resists cracking. (3)

Matt’s Wild Cherry Tomato is an indeterminate heirloom collected in the wild from eastern Mexico. The productive plants bear sweet, flavorful, deep red cherry tomatoes in clusters of 7 to 13. The sprawling plants are disease resistant and mature in 60 days. (3)

Fireworks Tomato is an indeterminate heirloom tomato that begins producing in 60 days. The 8 to 12 ounce fruits are red and flavorful. (4)

Early Tomatoes for Hot Climates

Mini Orange Tomato is an indeterminate vine of medium height for southern areas with night temperatures above 70°F. The bright orange cherries are mild flavored with a slight tang, maturing in 66 days . (3)

For a fast-growing salad, the freshest salsa, or the first paste tomatoes of the season, there are many tomatoes that can be harvested in a shorter time period than their later-maturing relatives. This can extend the amount of time that you can be harvesting from your garden. You will be surprised how much better your fresh, home-grown tomatoes taste.

Source for seeds and/or plants and information:

  1. territorialseed.com
  2. humeseeds.com
  3. southernexposure.com
  4. tomatofest.com

About Olympia


My name is Olympia Paz, and I am a graduate of Kansas State University.with extensive studies in soil science (agronomy), horticultural science, and biology. I have continued my own studies in these areas, especially soil science, and applied my knowledge to growing nutritious organic food in my home gardens, containers, and inside.

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