Botanists classify tomatoes as fruits. Horticulturists, however, classify them as vegetables. Most other people consider tomatoes vegetables because fresh tomatoes are used in much the same way as lettuce, onions, cauliflower, and many other vegetables. Fresh tomatoes are eaten raw or cooked and are served in salads and other dishes. Most tomatoes grown in the United States are processed for use in making food products. These products include ketchup, tomato juice, tomato soup, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and canned whole tomatoes. Tomatoes are an important source of vitamins A and C and of certain minerals.
About 80 million short tons (72 million metric tons) of tomatoes are grown throughout the world annually. The United States produces more tomatoes than any other nation. Growers in the United States raise a commercial tomato crop of more than 11 million short tons (10 million metric tons) yearly. About 80 percent of the crop comes from California, but tomatoes are grown in almost every area of the country. Ontario leads the Canadian provinces in tomato production.
The tomato plant has a strong smell and has small hairs on its stems. It spreads out while growing and produces clusters of small yellow flowers. The flowers develop into ripe tomatoes in 40 to 75 days, depending on the variety. Tomatoes are green at first, but most turn red, orange, or yellow as they ripen.
Tomatoes thrive in fertile, warm, well-drained soil and in locations that receive at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. Tomatoes are a favorite of home gardeners, because they can be grown in nearly any kind of soil. In addition, a large crop requires relatively little space. Many varieties produce 10 to 15 pounds (4.5 to 7 kilograms) of fruit per plant.
Researchers and growers have bred tomatoes to increase the number of fruits per plant and to improve their quality and other features. For example, the leading varieties of tomatoes grown in California were developed especially for harvesting by machines. Other types commonly grown in the United States include cherry tomatoes, Sunray, and Big Boy Hybrid. A variety called Ponderosa may produce tomatoes that weigh over 3 pounds (1.4 kilograms). Micro-Tom is a variety that is small enough to be grown in flower pots. A variety called Solar set produces high-quality tomatoes at unusually high temperatures and humidity levels.
Growing, harvesting, and processing. Tomato seeds require 75 to 85 days to develop into mature plants with ripe fruits. In California and other areas that have a long growing season, the seeds can be planted outdoors. They are planted indoors in areas where the growing season is too short for outdoor development. Young tomato plants obtained from the seeds are transplanted outdoors when the seedlings are four to six weeks old. The transplanting takes place about two weeks after the last frost of spring, because tomato plants can be damaged by cold temperatures.
In gardens and greenhouses, most tomato plants are supported with stakes or trellises to keep them from spreading on the ground. Such supports allow the plants to be placed closer together, thus increasing the yield of each unit of land. The supports also help produce a better quality fruit and prevent a disease called fruit rot by keeping the fruits off moist ground.
The most common diseases of the tomato are bacterial wilt, fusarium wilt, and verticillium wilt (see WILT). Several kinds of insects and worms also attack tomatoes. Plant breeders have developed varieties of the plants that resist some diseases and pests. In addition, many growers use chemicals and biological control methods to fight the enemies of tomatoes.
Most tomatoes raised to be eaten fresh are picked by hand, but an increasing number of growers use machines to harvest the crop. In the United States, machines harvest most tomatoes grown for processing.
Home gardeners pick tomatoes when they are ripe. Commercially grown tomatoes are picked before they ripen. Then they are shipped to warehouses in market areas. Unripe tomatoes are less easily damaged while being shipped. Tomatoes ripen in the warehouses.
Tomatoes grown for processing are harvested when ripe. They are then washed and scalded. Scalding loosens the skins and makes peeling easier. After the tomatoes have been peeled, they undergo different processes, depending on the final product. For example, tomatoes may be cooked or strained. The product is packed into containers, which are heated to destroy harmful bacteria. Finally, the containers are cooled and labeled, and then stored for shipping.
History. Tomatoes originated in South America, and Spanish priests probably brought them to Europe from Mexico in the mid-1500's. People in Spain and Italy then began to grow tomatoes as food. However, many people considered them poisonous because they are related to several poisonous plants. As a result, tomatoes did not become widely accepted as food until the early 1800's. Tomatoes were sometimes called love apples, perhaps because of a superstition that eating them made people fall in love.
Scientific Classification. The tomato belongs to the nightshade family, Solanaceae. Its scientific name is Lycopersicon esculentum.
Definitely, you have it on the highest authority.IL-PINE wrote:the tomato - i heard it is deadly poisonous!
I also heard that tomatoes are related to letter boxes, because they are the same colour and have plenty of little things you can't eat, inside. I'm sure about this.
I would like to share it with you.
What is the Most Poisonous Plant in the World?
The castor bean plant is the most deadly of all plants. Eat a single castor bean, or perhaps two if you're an adult, and you'll die. If you live beyond three to five days, you will probably survive. Castor beans (not true beans, but rather seeds) contain a poison, called ricin, which works by preventing cells from making proteins, says the CDC (Center for Disease Control). Cells die without the proteins, and the resulting damage to the body can be great enough to eventually kill a person. The plant originally came from Eastern Africa, but now grows wild all over. Many cities plant it in parks, and other public places.
Regards Ricinus communis, (Euphorbiaceae) it is true to be highly poisonous plant and the protein Ricnin itself is twice as potent as Cobra venom. It is belived to be the weapon who killed a famous Bulgarian dissentor (Georgi Markov) some 30 years ago in Waterloo where the poison (Ricinus extract) was placed at the tip of an umbrella in the form of a pin-head sized pellet which the assasin used to inject in the victim's foot as by accident. The poison resulted deadly 3 days later.
http://www.espionageinfo.com/Ba-Bl/Bioc ... apons.html
There was recently (2004) a case at St. Lukes hospital of a 70 year old patient who ingested 10 seeds of Ricinus. Read more here: