Heirloom tomatoes: Solanum lycopersicum
Nutrition Facts: Germination:
An heirloom tomato (also called heritage tomato in the UK) is an open-pollinated (non-hybrid) heirloom cultivar of tomato. Heirloom tomatoes have become increasingly popular and more readily available in recent years. According to tomato experts Craig LeHoullier and Carolyn Male, heirloom tomatoes can be classified into four categories: family heirlooms, commercial heirlooms, mystery heirlooms, and created heirlooms. They are grown for a variety of reasons, such as historical interest, access to wider varieties, and by people who wish to save seeds from year to year, as well as for their taste, which is widely perceived to be better than modern tomatoes. They do, however, have a shorter shelf life and are less disease resistant than most commercial tomatoes. Furthermore, some scientists have suggested that heirloom tomatoes are no more natural than commercial ones, and that many are simply "inbred" tomatoes.
Heirloom tomatoes lack a genetic mutation that gives tomatoes an appealing uniform red color while sacrificing the fruit's sweet taste. Varieties bearing this mutation, which have been favored by industry since the 1940s, feature fruits with lower levels of carotenoids and a decreased ability to make sugar within the fruit.
Heirloom seeds "breed true," unlike the seeds of hybridized plants. Both sides of the DNA in an heirloom variety come from a common stable cultivar, in contrast to hybridized seeds, which combine different cultivars. The hybrids exhibit "hybrid vigor" in the first generation, but the second generation tends to exhibit many undesirable recessive traits. Heirloom tomato varieties are "open pollinating", but cross-pollination is very rare without human intervention.
Heirloom seeds can be easily collected and will continue to show the traits of the original seed because this family of tomatoes almost always self-pollinate. Collecting heirloom seed is as easy as picking ripe tomatoes, chopping or mashing into a jar till less than half-full, filling with water, shaking from time to time and allowing to decompose for 1-6 days until seeds sink to the bottom, then rinsing until the seeds are clean, and drying. This decomposition is beneficial because it discourages transmission of diseases to the seed, the drying promotes better germination, and because the seeds are easier to separate when they are clean.
Manage Plant Growth: Your seedlings will grow best around 65F (18C) with gentle air circulation and lots of light. Research has proven that lowering seedlings' night-time temperature (55-60 degrees) and occasionally brushing your hands gently across the tops of the seedlings a couple minutes a day will contribute to stronger plants. When your seedlings develop their first true leaves, they can be transplanted into larger containers. This re-potting will be good for the seedlings since this will help them develop a strong root system. When re-potting, seedlings may be set deep into their new containers to shorten the height of the seedling. The extra length under the soil will produce additional roots.
Harden Off Your Tomato Plants before Transplanting: To reduce the risk of shock from transplanting, your seedlings should be gradually conditioned to the outdoors for about 2 weeks before planting them in the garden. Begin with 1 to 2 hours of exposure to the outside elements each day, then increase the time slowly until you can leave them out day and night. Introducing plants slowly to outdoor conditions is called "hardening off". The longer the plants remain indoors, the harder it will be to acclimate them to the outdoors. Be sure to avoid full sun and wind when you first move your plants outside. If the temperature drops below 40F (4C), bring the plants back inside till it warms a bit.
After the transplants are "hardened off", they can be re-planted in their final outdoor growing locations, either in the garden or in large pots.
Tomato , whether pronounced Tuh-MAY-toh or Tuh-MAH-to, is a delicious, nutritious fruit, more widely known as a vegetable. Botanically, a tomato (Solanum lycopersicum,) is the ovary of a flowering plant, therefore it is a fruit, or, more specifically, a berry. However, since it’s not as sweet as other fruits and is most often served in salads or as a main dish - most people refer to it as a vegetable. Approximately 130 million tons of tomatoes are produced in the world today with China being the largest producer, followed by the United States and Turkey. Tomato plants are also one of the most common home garden plants found in the U.S. There are many different varieties of tomato plants and most produce red fruit, but there are also tomato plants that produce yellow, orange, pink, purple, green and white fruit. Tomato plants vary in size from small cherry tomatoes to elongated plum tomatoes. Heirloom tomatoes are also becoming increasingly popular among home gardeners and organic producers. Heirloom tomatoes tend to be more disease resistant and produce very tasty, interesting fruits. Tomatoes are the state vegetable of New Jersey, and in Arkansas, it is both the state fruit and state vegetable. In the state of Ohio, tomato juice has been the official beverage since 1965.
Tomatoes can be easily grown from seeds, but to save time and energy, most home gardeners buy tomato plants or seedlings from nurseries and garden centers. Most tomato seeds that are purchased by gardeners are for hard to find heirloom varieties. Tomato seeds can be found in garden catalogs and can also be purchased online. Growing tomatoes is enjoyable and rewarding and doesn’t take a lot of space - they can even be grown in containers on patios or balconies. The main thing to remember about growing tomatoes is they need a lot of sunshine and a lot of water with good drainage. The tomato has a multitude of culinary uses and its’ high acidic content makes it very popular for canning. Joseph Campbell mass produced the first tomato soup in 1897, although the first recipe is credited to Maria Parloa for her tomato chowder in the 1872 book, The Appledore Cook Book. Today, tomato recipes number in the hundreds. You can find tomato recipes for everything from tomato marmalade to fried green tomatoes. With just a few basic tips and the proper steps, you can grow tomatoes that will produce luscious fruit that is both tasty and promotes good health.
Tomatoes are high in Vitamin A and C and are naturally low in calories. They are also an excellent source of lycopene, which is the pigment that makes tomatoes red and has been linked to the prevention of many types of cancer. Lycopene is an antioxidant which fights free radicals that can interfere with normal cell growth and activity. These free radicals are what can potentially lead to cancer, heart disease and premature aging. The best sources of lycopene are found in processed tomato products, such as ketchup and tomato products.