Tomatoe, Fruit or Vegetable?
Botanically speaking, a tomatoe should be considered a fruit. However, in a Supreme Court Case ssettled in 1893 over a tariff placed on vegetables, the Supreme Court declared the tomato a vegetable. But the debate rages on and I guess it depends on whether you would rather believe a botanist or a politician! I personally consider tomatoes a vegetable, no science or agenda here, it just feels right to me, and because I eat them as vegetables in salads, etc.
When to Plant Tomatoes
Starting tomatoes from seed is a whole subject in itself. So here we will assume that you already have plants, those started by you from seed, or bought as plants. They should be about 8 inches tall and roughly as wide with sturdy stems and good color. Tomatoes are a warm weather crop and need night temperatures above 55 and daytime temperatures between 70 to 90 degrees with 6 hours of sunlight per day. You will need to check your zone for safe starting times since each locale is different.
Types of Tomatoes
There is a wide variety of tomato plants for the home gardener. You will find when you grow tomatoes yourself you have so many more choices than you normally find in the marketplace.
Tomatoes come in sizes from the size of a grape, to those that are 3 pounds, and some varieties even larger. Tomatoes come in pear and banana shapes, and some that would be hard to describe. The colors are also diverse. There are green tomatoes, also yellow, gold, pink, tangerine, red, purple and more.
There are heirloom tomatoes which are true to type and can be grown from their own seed. Heirloom tomatoes are juicier, thinner skinned and very diverse in their flavors, colors, and shapes.
Hybrids have been developed to be disease resistant, and often have thicker skin and more firmness. Though they may be more disease resistant, they may also be less flavorful.
In selecting plants, choose only those that are healthy looking, good color, firm stalks, and no blooms. When choosing hybrids, look on the name tag, after the plant name it should say vfm. This indicates disease resistant varieties.
A few of the most popular tomato types are Better Boy, Beefsteak, Celebrity, Big Boy, Early Girl, Stupice, Green Zebra, Cherokee purple, and Mortgage Lifter. Roma tomatoes are also a good variety, great for dicing in food dishes, and also for cooking, in sauces and pastes.