To say gardening is hard work is an understatement, but there are things you can do to minimize the efforts and maximize the return.
First and foremost is the variety selection. After years of testing vegetable verities in my own garden, I know that all tomatoes, cucumbers and beans are not created equal.
Select the varieties that matures early in your area; select the varieties that are more productive for the size of the plant; next, select the varieties taste good to you. Keep in mind no matter how tasty it may be, if it doesn't mature in time, you will not taste it. If you insisting on growing these varieties, be prepared to start them early and baby sit them longer. This year, I grew an assorted heirloom tomatoes. Some I really liked and will grow again.
The winners are:
1. PICK RED:An early, determinant plant, produces large slicing tomatoes with great taste.
2. PERON:An early, indeterminant plant,produces large slicing tomatoes with great taste. Very productive.
3. SUN GOLD: An early golden cherry tomato. Indeterminate, thick foliage. Produces golden cherry tomatoes with exceptional taste, sweet and tangy. Plant tend to get big.
4. PINEAPPLE: An mid maturing large yellow tomato that is very tasty. indeterminant,lots of foliage.
5. JET STAR: A hybridized early maturing variety. Produce LARGE sized tomatoes with great taste. Indeterminant.
6. SUPER MARZANO: A great Roma type tomato,indeterminant, very productive.
7. OLD GERMAN: An mid maturing yellow-orange tomato with red stripes. Great flavor.
The ones came in second include:
1. EARLY GIRL: Very early, hard fruit. The taste resembles super market tomatoes (the best kind)
2. OREGON SPRING: Very early, determinant. Hugs the ground. Produce one wave of tomatoes and then quits. Taste is good.
3. CHEROKEE PURPLE: Mid maturing. Good flavor, soft fruit.
Ones I didn't like:
1. RED PEAR: Late, indeterminant, lots of foliage for the amount of fruit you get. Taste blend.
2. ISIS CANDY: I had high hope for this one, but it was mid mature. Somewhat soft fruit and taste plain to me. Update: 9-5-09: Isis tomato finally ripened up. It was quite sweet with very little acidity. I guess they were not ripe when I tasted them back in August. It sure takes a long time to mature, but it was worth it.
Trim away the foliage at the bottom of the tomatoes, remove suckers. This will reduce the moisture, nutrient consumption by the plant and allow air to flow through and reduce the chance of rotting.