The tomato is actually a fruit, but most people think of it as a vegetable. This misnomer could be because tomatoes are so easy to grow in the vegetable garden or because they are a favorite salad recipe item. In this article, we'll talk about growing tomatoes, tomato types, selecting and serving tomatoes, and the health benefits of tomatoes.

About Tomatoes

Tomatoes are tender perennials that are grown as annuals. They have weak stems and lobed and toothed leaves that have a distinctive odor. The yellow flowers grow in clusters. Most tomatoes have vining growth habits and need a fair amount of space. Some tomatoes are described as bush varieties that will save space, but they'll still sprawl if you let them. You may still have to stake or cage the bush types. Depending on the variety, tomatoes vary by the size and shape of the fruit (cherry, plum, pear, etc.), by their color (red, pink, yellow, orange), and by their use (slicing, canning, juicing).

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Tomatoes are divided into two main groups according to growth habits: determinate and indeterminate. On the determinate tomato (bush tomato), the plant stops growing when the end buds set fruit, usually at about 3 feet tall. Determinate tomatoes seldom need staking, but a single stake or short cage will help keep them confined. Determinate varieties produce a crop of tomatoes that will all ripen at one time. This type of tomato is used for canning and processing.

On the indeterminate tomato (vine tomato), the end buds do not set fruit; the plant continues to grow until it's killed by frost. Indeterminate tomatoes will get quite large, so these varieties should be staked or caged. Staked and caged tomatoes provide cleaner fruit and less loss from rot,
pests, or problems that occur in warm, humid areas. In addition, they require less room for each plant.

Common Name: Tomato
Scientific Name: Lycopersicon lycopersicum
Hardiness: Tender (will die at first frost)

In the next section, we'll show you how to grow tomatoes.

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