Lycopersicon - Garden Apple, Gold Apple, Love Apple, Pomo D'oro, Tomato
DESCRIPTION: Lycopersicon is the botanical name for the Tomato plant. The fruits of these plants are international favorites and there are more varieties sold of it than of any other vegetable. They may be eaten cooked or raw and are a good source of vitamins. The Tomato loves sunshine and is grown as a warm-weather annual, although it is actually a tender perennial. It is grown in greenhouses where summers are too cool for pollination and fruit to set in gardens. The garden varieties of Tomato come from two wild types; L. esculentum and L. pimpinellifolium are originally from western South America. The Tomato was introduced into European gardens in the early part of the sixteenth century, though it wasn't accepted as being edible; this may be possibly because it belongs to the Nightshade family (such as the White Potato, Eggplant, Pepper and other members of the Potato family, Solanaceae) and resembles many plants that were known to be poisonous; it was grown as an interesting ornamental plant. Tomatoes were grown in 1781 by Thomas Jefferson in Virginia, but weren't really known in America as an edible food until after 1834 and it was some years later that they even became popular.
Tomato (L. lycopersicum) - This has also been called Love Apple, Pomo D'Oro and Garden Apple. Tomatoes come in a wide range of shapes, sizes and colors. Some may be globe, round, flattened, oval, heart, or elongated and squarish shaped. Their colors may be red, orange, pink, golden, yellow, striped, or white. The average weight for the garden tomato used for slicing is 4 to 6 oz., but some varieties weigh up to 2 pounds. High quality Tomatoes have a good ratio of cell wall to pulp and a short, soft core. Even though there is a lot said about the flavor and acidity, there is actually little variation among varieties in the pH of the ripe fruit. More important is the amount of sugar. Depending on the size and health of a plant and the temperatures during pollination, a Tomato plant can produce 10 to 50 pounds of good fruit. Some types can produce fruit under cooler or warmer weather conditions, or often both. Some older varieties will only produce fruit under a limited range of temperatures. Tomato plants fall into 3 groups. "Indeterminate" vines grow constantly throughout the season; "large determinate" vines grow to a good size, but increase little more after that; "determinate" vines stay small to medium size no matter how much you nourish and water them. Compact or dwarf vines are even smaller and some are just right for pots. Vine growth depends on the variety. They may be erect, sprawling or have drooping branches, great for hanging baskets. Most kinds have the usual Tomato foliage, but some have thick, dark leaves resembling those of the Potato. Some midget varieties have miniature leaves.
Cherry Tomato (L. lycopersicum variety cerasiforme) - "Cherry" refers to the shape and size of the fruit. They may be colored red or yellow and their size ranges from one-half to five-eighths inch in diameter to the size of a ping-pong ball. The clusters or "hands" of Cherry Tomatoes can be very large and produce up to 100 Tomatoes each. A Cherry Tomato plant can easily match or top slicing Tomato vines of equal size in fruit production. Most types have high-climbing indeterminate vines and the fruits of some have relatively tough skin. Vines can be staked, grown in cages, or pruned to 1 or 2 leader stems and run up strings or shoots.
Pear Tomato (L. lycopersicum variety pyriforme) - These vines are similar to the Cherry Tomato (tall and indeterminate), but not as productive. Pear tomatoes have small fruits, no larger than 2 inches by 1 inch and nipples on the stem ends. "Plum" and "Peach" Tomatoes are similar but don’t have nipples. All three varieties come in red or yellow and have tender skins and juicy interiors. A lot of chefs consider Pear, Plum and Peach Tomatoes to be the greatest for eating. Some of the paste Tomatoes, however, whether plum- or pear-shaped, are solid and dry.
Outdoor cultivation - Tomatoes will grow in any good garden soil that is properly drained to prevent "blossom-end rot". It should be tilled deeply before they are planted. It would be profitable if the soil was enriched with compost, leaf mold, peat moss or commercial humus. Manure should be used, if at all, with caution. The soil pH should be 6.0 to 7.0 and this can be maintained with dolomitic limestone, which ensures adequate calcium and magnesium. Soil that has a pH of 7.0 or higher may benefit from applications of agricultural sulfur. The ground should always be kept free of weeds by mulching or raking the ground about an inch deep after the plants are well established. Set plants out after danger from frost has passed and plant them a bit deeper than what they were growing in their containers. If your plants are a bit spindly, plant them on their sides and cover with dirt up to their first leaves. Roots will grow along the buried stem and produce sturdier plants. Space the plants about 2½ feet apart, in rows 2½ to 3½ feet apart. Cover your Tomatoes with bottomless, 1-gallon plastic jugs for 2 or 3 weeks. When the young plants are exposed to cold, but protected from frost, they are "vernalized". This treatment can increase the quality and quantity of fruit production, especially early in the season. If plants are started very early indoors and grown there until they start to blossom and fruit, transplanting may shock them and cause a setback in growth, if they recover at all. Smaller, cold treated seedlings will catch up quickly and out do large, forced plants. All Tomatoes, except for dwarf varieties, should be provided with support. Cages of large-mesh wire fencing rolled into cylinders, 2 to 3 feet wide and 5 to 6 feet high are good to use. The mesh should be large enough to reach through when it comes time to harvest. Use stakes to hold up the cages. Some gardeners prune the vines to 2 leader stems and run them up sturdy strings or twine. The side shoots or suckers are pruned off. Since these plants are tall and slender, they are much easier to spray and keep free of diseases and pests. Tomato plants should never dry out. The fruits will crack if they are subjected to a dry period and then provided with moisture. However, if the soil is saturated with water during the days leading up to harvest, flavorless, watery fruit may result. Tomato plants are moderate feeders, especially the small, determinate kinds. The fertilizer that you use shouldn't contain too much nitrogen. An over abundance of this will cause lush vegetation and thus delay maturity and hinder fruit production. Tomato diseases may be troublesome even in resistant hybrids. Luckily, there are relatively safe insecticides with negligible residues for the control of soft-bodied tomato insects.
Greenhouse cultivation - Tomatoes may be had during the winter by growing them in a greenhouse that maintains a 55- to 60-degree temperature during the night, with a few degree rise during the day. They must be able to have full exposure to sunlight. They may be grown in large containers or in beds. If they're grown in beds, they need 12 to 15 inches between each other; if they are potted, they need containers that are 9 to 10 inches in diameter. They will need some kind of support. Each plant should only be allowed one stem by pinching off all side shoots when they are small. It is beneficial to choose a variety especially suited for greenhouse culture. The general care of the plants is the same as if they were grown outside. In order to endure the production of fruit, it is necessary to pollinate the flowers or treat them with a special hormone spray, which can be bought for that purpose. Pollination can be accomplished by gently shaking the plants during the middle of each warm, dry day at a time when the air in the greenhouse is fairly dry. Another way is to take a soft camel's-hair brush and gently stroke it across every open flower each warm, bright day.
Harvest - Tomatoes are harvested before they are completely ripe. They may be frozen whole, or scalded and skinned for canning, juicing, or freezing. Never process spoiled or mushy-ripe Tomatoes; cold packing or inadequate pressure-cooking could allow dangerous organisms to survive. Partially ripe Tomatoes will finish ripening just fine on a windowsill, out of direct sunlight. Some varieties will stay good for several weeks in a cool place. Allowing ripe Tomatoes to stay on the vine reduces yield and may spread rot. Cherry, Plum, Pear, and Peach Tomatoes are grown and harvested, as are standard Tomatoes of comparable vine habit and size. The vines of the Plum, Pear and Peach Tomatoes are so large that it is difficult to find the fruits as they ripen. Try hard, because small-fruited Tomatoes can drop and grow in your garden for several seasons to come.
PROPAGATION: If you are going to plant seeds, use a "seed-starter mix" (equal amounts of sifted loam, sand and leaf mold make a good mixture) rather than regular potting soil. Start them indoors, 8 weeks before the frost-free date at a 75- to 80-degree temperature. Water the soil thoroughly with a fine spray and plant the seeds; they should be covered with ¼-inch of soil. Once the first true leaves appear, they are placed in a spot where the night temperature reaches 50 to 55 degrees. The daytime temperature can range from room temperature to 80 degrees. Cool nights prevent the plants from becoming lanky. Don’t over water them while they are young and maintain strong light either from the sun or from fluorescent lights placed 2 inches above the plants. After 3 weeks of growth, set the plants where the night temperature reaches 60 to 65 degrees. When it is safe, they may be placed in the garden and taken care of as described in the potting section.
Tomato - There are so many varieties of Tomatoes that you need to check catalogues and seed and plant displays for those that will meet your needs. No single variety or hybrid will combine all the best features. Find out which varieties are suitable for home gardens and which tomato diseases are prevalent in your area so you can choose resistant varieties. Two varieties will be needed in your garden. You should choose one early variety and one midseason or late. If space is limited, choose determinate or midget kinds. Read the descriptions in the catalogues. If they mention shipping qualities or mechanical harvesting for one year, choose another. Plant extremely early varieties in short-season gardens; avoid late varieties where seasons are short or cool. Varieties are classified and tested according to the number of days from transplanting to the first ripe fruit. In your garden, this may vary by a few days from the catalogue listings. Summer plantings ordinarily mature faster than spring plantings. Extra-early varieties mature in 58 to 63 days from transplanting; early types need 64 to 70 days; midseason kinds require 71 to 79 days; and late varieties need 80 days or more. The coverage of the foliage can range from dense to sparse. Thick foliage is better for southern and western gardens because it protects against sunburn, but in northern gardens it can impede ripening. Extra-early dwarf varieties usually have a thin canopy; they tend to sunburn in the South and Southwest. Resistance or tolerance of certain diseases is usually indicated by an initial in the variety name. Examples are verticillium (V), fusarium (F), nematodes (N), tobacco mosaic virus (T) and alternaria (A). Look for varieties that also resist stem canker, leaf mold, gray leafspot and blossom-end rot. You may also want to think about the way(s) that you plan on using your Tomatoes. If you want a succession of fruits, you might choose a variety with an extended maturity. Or, you might want many ripe Tomatoes at once, if you are planning to can them. As you can see, there are so many different things to consider when selecting your plants. Here are just a few of the varieties available. Early: Siberia, Early Girl V Hybrid, Champion VFNT Hybrid, Sprint A. Midseason: Better Boy VFN Hybrid, Burpee's Big Girl VF Hybrid, Freedom VFF, Parks Whopper VFNT, Celebrity VFNT Hybrid (AAS). Late: Beefmaster VFN Hybrid, Golden Boy, Royal Ace VF.
Cherry Tomato - Large Red is the old standard. The small-fruited Sweet 100 Hybrid is much sweeter and has a high content of vitamin C along with fairly tender skin. Cherry Grande VF is another variety to consider. Some midget varieties of standard Tomatoes have fruit the same size as Cherry Tomatoes, but generally produce less fruits per hand.
Pear, Plum, Peach Tomato - Red Plum, Red Pear, Yellow Plum, Yellow Pear, Roma VF Hybrid, Early Baby Boy.
Big Beef Hybrid Tomato
Yellow Pear Cherry Tomato
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