History of the Tomato
The tomato is a hearty fruiting vegetable native to South and Central America. It comes from a group known as the nightshade family. Many plants in the nightshade family are quite poisonous. The tomato was introduced in Europe at first for decoration, though it was grown originally in South America as a food plant. It was eventually adopted as a food plant for lower classes in the last 400 years in Europe. Southern Italians gravitated toward this fruiting vegetable and today it is in many of their dishes. In fact, today, southern Italian food is known for tomato sauces. The Spanish first popularized tomatoes, and then their use was spread throughout Europe by the Italians, British and French.
Determinate tomatoes bear a crop all at once, and indeterminate mature at different rates. The advantage of growing indeterminate tomatoes is that they continue to produce until they are killed off by frost. Please note, the heirloom tomatoes are a popular indeterminate type of tomato. Common tomato varieties include:
· Sweet 100
· Mortgage Lifter
· Santa 71
· Yellow Pear
· Gardener’s Delight
One of the major points of the tomato is that the major varieties available today are self-pollinating varieties. In nature, the tomato is a cross pollinating plant that keeps the stamens completely enclosed within the corolla. The bee is the primary agent for the transfer of plant pollen.
Tomato Growing Needs
In cooler climates, tomatoes are grown in greenhouses. In more temperate climates, tomatoes are started indoors and transferred outside later. Hydroponic tomatoes are also available, usually in hostile environments and where competition from local plant life is too difficult.
Most tomatoes are picked before fully ripe, but will continue to ripen unless exposed to temperatures below 12 degrees Celsius. Tomato seeds are best planted in less than 2.5 centimeters of soil, and should be watered with 300 ml of water each day for the first 10 days for best results. Moderate water after this period is suggested.
Common Diseases and Pests
Common tomato diseases are mildew, blight, and mosaic virus. Common tomato pests include cutworms, aphids, loopers, beetles, slugs and whiteflies.