Organic Gardening – Americas favorite – The tomato

The tomato is Americas favorite garden vegetable.

The tomato is referred to as a vegetable but it is technically a fruit. It is a member of the nightshade family and for this reason in past history was often referred to as a poisonous plant and thought to have mystical negative properties.

There are many varieties of tomatoes from the small pear, grape and cherry tomatoes that are popular on salads to the huge beef stake tomatoes that weigh a few pounds a piece.

Tomatoes come in yellow (low acid), red, green stripe and purple colors. They can take 54 days for the smaller earlier varieties and up to 100 days for the heirloom varieties.

Tomatoes can be grown in most areas. The only thing you have to watch with tomatoes is the cold. They do not tolerate frost and temperatures below 40 well so you need to set them out later in the spring or use coldframe or season extending practices. Even if a tomato does not freeze in a light frost it may suffer stress and will be set back in drop production or just produce poorly.

Tomatoes will also do better with additional fertilizer and deep watering.

Tomatoes grow well near beans and basil. The borage plant which is an herb popular many years ago improves the flavor of tomatoes and does well if you inter-plant the two.

I plant my tomatoes with a combination of borage, bean and basil plants. I also stake them. I find I have better control over any insects of they grow vertically.

I grow a lot of tomatoes and use them all season long. I can, freeze and sun-dry as many as I can. I do not use any chemicals on my tomatoes and basically have no insect damage with them.

My favorite tomatoes are the Yellow Pear, Cherry tomato, Amish Paste (like the Roma tomato), yellow tomatoes, and a variety of heirloom tomatoes.

I feel the Heirloom tomatoes have more flavor and have such fun colors. They are a joy to grow. The Pineapple tomato is fun with a great taste.

One other tomato I have to mention is the Yellow Banana tomato, another heirloom. It’s just a delicious fun tomato.

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Denise

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