This Latin American fruit comes in thousands of varieties. Decide what to grow based on your needs and your garden space.
Though referred to as a vegetable, tomatoes are actually a fruit native to Mexico and Central America where they grow year-round. There are thousands of varieties of tomatoes. A trip to the local market is a great way to find the types of tomatoes that are liked and would be good choices to grow in the garden.
Choose Roma tomatoes for sauce, cherry tomatoes for salads or slicing tomatoes for sandwiches. Each tomato has a slightly different texture and flavor. Choose the type that's right for the need and a variety that grows in the climate. The local garden center will have seedlings available in the spring or seeds are available year-round if the growing from seed is preferred.
When Spanish explorers discovered tomatoes they thought they were poisonous. They looked similar to another plant that was known to be toxic so many people were afraid to eat them. Once the explorers realized tomatoes were safe they were quickly adopted as part of their diet. They carried seeds back to Europe where they became wildly popular. Many hybrids have been created from those first seeds. Now tomatoes are popular around the world.
One of the first choices to make when choosing the type of tomato you want to grow is based upon the amount of space you have to work with. There are two basic types of tomatoes, determinate and indeterminate. Determinate types are shorter, bushier and have fruit that ripens close to the same time. Indeterminate types are taller and more like vines. They need to be staked and pruned, but they produce fruit over the entire season as long as the plant is healthy. For a small space garden it'd best to choose the determinate variety, for more space plant either type or a mixture of the two types.