Tomatoes are the most popular home garden vegetable. They are easy to grow and thrive under a variety of growing conditions. Sales of tomato transplants have skyrocketed in recent years with tomato plants being an
important part of the spring bedding-plant industry.
Tomatoes are a native South American crop but were taken to Europe by early explorers.
Although some Europeans accepted the tomato immediately, others thought it to be poisonous. Even after the plant was brought to America, most Americans were afraid of tomatoes until the 1830s.
Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C. One and a half small tomatoes contain more vitamin C than half a grapefruit. Tomato juice rivals orange juice in vitamin C content. One small tomato provides nearly 20 percent of the daily minimum requirement for provitamin A, and newer varieties with more vitamin A are being developed. Tomatoes also contain high amounts of magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, copper, iron and cobalt.
Plant characteristics are an important factor to consider in selecting tomatoes. Some vines are relatively compact and less sprawling compared to large-vined types that must be grown using pruning and staking, tying, or “cage” culture.