It's that time already in Central Florida! The aim is to have seedlings large enough to transplant by March 1... I'm usually late, and it all works out OK. These aren't really my A-List of tomatoes, but, really, they'll work. I've written this many times in many ways, but here are my priorities for tomatoes:
1) Have a good mix of cherry, small, medium and a few large. The large tomatoes are really for bragging rights... It's HARD to grow large tomatoes in our climate! And they don't really merit the effort. But it's very easy to grow smaller ones. Juliet is an all-around best tomato for Florida--it has remarkable resistance to skin split and to piercing insects. Plus, it's multifunctional--it's a small-bodied Italian Roman type, so you can make a great sauce with it, and you can eat them out of hand.
2) Pick early- and mid-season.
3) Hybrids. Yeah, I know, no romance. But in exchange, you get tomatoes! Forget about your olde-tymey tomatoes... they were great a hundred years ago!
4) Pick the tomatoes with the most letters after them! (The letters indicate disease and pest resistance.)
5) Only indeterminates. Do NOT bother with determinates. Trust me.
6) Worry less about spacing when you plant them, more about SUPPORT. Look through this blog for my ideas on trellising. Ultimately, the best, cheapest, most adaptable trellis is made with a mix of electrical conduit, rebar for sidewalks, and LOTS OF ZIPTIES. figure that each plant will weigh in excess of 35 pounds when fully bearing. Multiply that times the number of plants, and then add zome more zipties!
7) Plan to pick them earlier than you'd think: I like to pick my fruit when the bottom of the tomato is fully colored. Then, I let them ripen on the counter. Better flavor, better texture.
8) I always end up buying a few plants from the nursery. They're never very good, but the temptation is irresistible.
I really like Tomande, a constant in my garden. It looks and tastes like an old-fashioned tomato, but is an excellent hybrid.