Tomato (Solanum Lycopersicum) is a flowering plant of the Solanaceae family, grown mainly for its edible fruits. They are an excellent source of vitamin C and phytochemical lycopene. The fruits are widely eaten raw in salads, consumed as a vegetable dish, used as an ingredient for different recipes cooked and pickled.
A significant proportion of the world’s tomatoes are also used for processing; goods involve canned tomatoes, juice, ketchup, puree, paste, and dehydrated pulp or sun-dried tomatoes.
What Are The Two Types Of Tomatoes?
This might sound like an odd question to most people, but there are actually two tomato types; indeterminate and determinate.
The determinate ones (bush varieties) are bred to stop their growing when they are in the height of somewhere between 3 to 4 feet (about 0,91 to 1,22 meters).
Indeterminate ones, on the other hand, keep on growing. The size depends a lot from its variety, but I can tell you that seeing an indeterminate variety with a size of 6 to 20 feet (about 1,83 to 6,1 meters) is completely possible.
|Botanical Name||Solanum Lycopersicum|
|Plant Type||Annual / Perennial (This Depends On The Climate)|
|Size (Fully Grown)||Depending On The Variety, 3 To 12 feet (About 1 To 3,7 Meters)|
|Sun Exposure||Prefers Full Sunlight|
|Soil Type||Loose, Well-drained Soil|
|Soil pH||Slightly Acidic (6.0 To 6.8)|
|U.S. Hardiness Zones||2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11|
|Native Area||Central And South America|
How Many Tomato Varieties Are There?
Many civilizations have embraced tomato in their kitchens due to the worldwide spread of this plant. So we are fortunate to have over 10,000 tomato varieties (but they aren’t all red!) Below are the 26 most popular types, which include:
- Big Beef
- Early Girl
- Better Boy
- Mr. Stripey
- Black Krim
- Green Zebra
- Big Rainbow
- San Marzano
- Three Sisters
- Mortgage Lifter
- Cherokee Purple
- Super Sweet 100
- Gardener’s Delight
- Japanese Black Trifele
Where Did Tomatoes Originally Come From?
The wild species evolved in the South American Andes Mountains, possibly primarily in Peru and Ecuador, and is believed to have been domesticated in pre-Columbian Mexico; its name is derived from the Náhuatl (Aztec) word tomatl.
The Spanish introduced the plant to Europeans during the early sixteenth century, and it seems that the Spanish and Italians were the first Europeans to accept it as food. Tomatoes were initially cultivated as an ornamental plant in France and northern Europe.
It was viewed as food with suspicion because botanists knew it as a cousin of the toxic belladonna and deadly nightshade. Those days, the people weren’t stupid because the roots and leaves of this plant are poisonous and carry a solanine neurotoxin. You might be surprised to know that they were actually feared in Europe for over 200 years! If you want to get to the bottom of this, read this article in the Smithsonian Magazine.
The Italians named the tomato Pomodoro (golden apple), which led to rumors that Europeans knew the first tomatoes were yellow. It has been proposed that the French called it pomme d’amour (love apple) as it was assumed to have aphrodisiac qualities.
Some scholars claim that tomato was initially taken as a kind of eggplant, of which it is a close cousin. The eggplant was named pomme des Mours (apple of the Moors) as it was a favorite vegetable of the Arabs, and Pomodoro and pomme d’amour may corrupt this name.
The Journey To America…
Tomatoes were imported from Europe into North America. It’s believed that Thomas Jefferson grew them in 1781 at Monticello. In Louisiana, it was used for food as early as 1812, but not until around 1835 in the northeastern states. Until the early 20th century, it was not attaining widespread popularity in the U.S, but thankfully, the plant is now widely grown worldwide.
What Does Tomato Look Like?
Generally, tomatoes are highly branched, spreading 24–72 inches (about 61–183 cm) and slightly trailing when fruiting, although some are small and straight. The leaves are more or less hairy, highly odorous, pinnate, and up to 18 inches (about 46 cm) long. The flowers with five petals are yellow, 0.8 inches (about 2 cm) long, pendant, and grouped.
The fruits or, in other words, tomatoes, in this case, are berries with a diameter ranging between 0.6 to 3 inches (about 1.5 to 7.5 cm) or more. They are typically red, scarlet, or yellow, but there are variations of purple and green, and they differ in form from nearly spherical to round and enlarge to pear-shaped.
Each fruit contains at least two small seed cells that are surrounded by jellylike material. Let’s take a closer look one by one at all parts of the plant.
Depending on the propagation method, tomatoes form differing root systems. Seed-planted tomatoes establish a taproot network composed of a powerful central root that shoots down into the soil and tinier lateral roots, which develop out of the primary root close to the top of the root.
Tomatoes produced from cuttings establish a fibrous root system consisting of a series of tiny, stringy roots forming a horizontal mat close to the ground line.
The Stems And Branches
The stem develops a marginal bud at the edge and the lateral branches that grow along the stem’s length from a node’s spiral pattern. The stem, branches, and leaves are made up of vascular bundles that bring water and nutrients to the plant and for the developing fruit.
As the plant grows older, the stem gets woody and fibrous but keeps the vascular system to keep feeding. Pruning improves the plant structure by allowing the lateral branch development to increase.
The foliage, varying from light green to dark blue-green, consists of compound leaves that grow on its lateral branches. Although variation dictates the leaves’ final size and shape, glandular trichomes coat all the leaves, branches, and stems; they secrete a greenish-yellow substance that, when stimulated, emit the pungent “tomato” smell and leaves behind a greasy residue.
Depending on the activity of the pruning, flowers form in simple or complex patterns on the branches. Many factors affect the number of blooms formed, like temperature, nutrition, and levels of humidity. The flowers are pale to bright yellow in color, and they typically have a diameter of less than one inch (about 2,5 cm).
The blossoms are categorized as perfect flowers and have male and female organs, five long petals, and an ovary that will eventually develop the fruit. To be able to form fruit on the plants, pollination usually occurs by insect and wind aid.
The Production Of Fruit
The flowers fade after adequate pollination and fall away to reveal the swollen ovary. Tiny, firm, and bright green fruits begin to form. They keep the green coloring until the fruit has developed its final form and volume, at which point the flesh and skin color starts to shift until it reaches its last shade, showing maturity.
What Conditions Do Tomatoes Grow Best In?
Most varieties grow well in most climates. But, to be absolutely sure, the best growing conditions for tomatoes are described below.
Tomato seeds start to sprout in steady temperatures between 68 to 77°F (about 20 to 25°C), emerging in 6 to 14 days. It takes longer, but they can germinate at temperatures as low as 59°F (about 15°C). Raising seeds indoors six to eight weeks before last spring’s average frost date or sowing them directly in the garden after the last frost when the soil temperature reaches 59°F (about 15°C) or warmer will develop seedlings.
For the plants’ growth, a temperature range of 64 to 75°F (about 18 to 24°C) is best. As temperatures fall below that range, growth slows. Plants can grow in climates warmer than 75°F (about 24°C), but you’ll have to water more frequently to avoid wilting.
Soil And Sun
Like other vegetable crops, tomatoes need a nutrient-rich, quickly-draining, and loamy soil to thrive: the best pH range from 6.0 to 6.8.
Adding and mixing a 3 to 4 inches (about 7,5 to 10 cm) deep layer of compost into the top 10 to 12 inches (about 25 to 30 cm) of soil can enhance the soil’s structure and drainage while increasing nutrients.
For at least six to eight hours a day, these warm-season vegetables need full sun, or clear, direct light.
Water And Fertilizer
Tomatoes need constant humidity to develop even ripe, nutritious fruits. Water the plants when the first 1 to 2 inches (about 2,5 to 5 cm) of soil are dry. Healthy growth needs uniformly moist soil without it being soggy or too dry. Spreading a 1-inch (2,5 cm) thick mulch layer around the plants can minimize weed growth while keeping the soil moisture intact.
Tomatoes need one teaspoon of ammonium nitrate per plant once the fruit has been set. After that, repeat applications each four to six weeks can encourage large fruits and healthy plants to sustain the growing volume.
Is it Safe To Eat / Consume Tomatoes?
We have mentioned details about the safety of consuming tomatoes or its products if you have a common medical problem or developing a new life inside you. You can also figure out from the details below if the plant is pet-friendly.
Pregnant And Breastfeeding Women
Tomatoes are not only safe, but they have many medical benefits as well. But, pregnant women should bear in mind that their health may be compromised by too much of anything. The same is true when it comes to tomatoes as well.
Children can safely eat tomatoes because they have a lot of health benefits. The best age to introduce your child to this plant is about 8 to 10 months old. They don’t usually cause allergic reactions but keep an eye out for rashes on your baby’s skin after they have eaten them.
People With Allergies
Because tomatoes and tomato related items are some of the Western diet’s most highly consumed foods, allergies are incredibly uncommon. A tomato allergy is often vulnerable to allergic reactions to other nightshades, including tomatoes, tobacco, and eggplants.
People With Diabetes
Approximately 4,9 ounces (about 140 grams) of tomatoes have a G.I. (glycemic index) of just under 15, making it a low G.I. food and fantastic diabetic food. Any food which has a G.I. score below 55 is decent for people with diabetes. It doesn’t contain a lot of calories either, which helps keep your weight under control.
Ripe tomatoes are considered safe for pets, and you can serve them as an occasional snack. On the other side, keep your pets away from unripe ones.