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Lycopersicon esculentum

In Our Garden

Tomatoes are in a family of plants known as nightshades along with peppers and eggplants, tobacco, and belladonna, a plant also known as deadly nightshade. Because tomatoes resembled this poisonous plant, its acceptance in Europe was slow.

Arkansas Traveler
Lycopersicon esculentum
5-7 oz. Tender Annual
Incredibly delicious, this pink heirloom has truly traveled because of its dependability. Holds up in humid areas, is crack and disease resistant and is also heat tolerant.

Chadwick Cherry Tomato
Lycopersicon esculentum
1.5 oz. Tender Annual
We have heard only rave reports of this juicy cherry tomato selected by the late horticultural genius, Alan Chadwick, originator of the biointensive method of gardening. Large for a cherry tomato, the 1.5 inch fruits are borne in clusters of 6, have sparkling tomato flavor and few seeds.

Cherokee Purple
Lycopersicon lycopersicum
Tender annual 8-10 oz. fruits
A Tennessee heirloom reportedly of Cherokee Indian origin. Vigorous indeterminate plants produce choice large reddish green tomatoes with a purple cast. Less productive than some, but well worth growing for the superior flavor.

Green Zebra
Lycopersicon esculentum
4-6 oz.fruit
Tender Annual
Round, green-yellow striped 4-6 oz. fruits provide diversity in an heirloom tomato mix. Fruits have a bright, acidic tomato flavor.

maglia rosa cherry tomato
L. esculentum
1-3 oz. Tender annual
Truly unique, mottled pink, egg-shaped fruits with bright, lightly acidic flavor and a tinge of sweetness. Attractive, lacy plant foliage. Developed by independent plant breeder Fred Hempel from Callifornia.

In History

Tomatoes were domesticated in Mexico, and their name comes from the Aztec term for “plump fruit,” tomatl.

When first introduced to Europe from the New World, tomatoes were considered an aphrodisiac.


Growing Tips:
Tomatoes grow well with basil, parsley, nasturtiums and asparagus.

Harvesting Tips:
Home-grown tomatoes are one of the most popular garden vegetables. The varieties available to the home gardener are so flavorful and juicy and require relatively little space for large production. Each tomato plant, properly cared for, yields 10 to 15 lb or more of fruit. Choose varieties bred for disease resistance for best results. Fusarium (F) and Verticillium (V) wilt are common diseases that can destroy a whole tomato crop. Many varieties are resistant to these two diseases. Look for VF after the cultivar name, indicating resistance to the wilts. VFN means the plants are resistant to verticillium, fusarium and nematodes; VFNT adds tobacco mosaic virus to the resistance list.

Tomato plants are described as determinate or indeterminate. The term 'determinate' refers to the plant growth habit. Determinate tomato plants grow like a bush to a certain size (about 3 to 5 feet), set fruit, and then decline. Most of the early ripening tomato varieties are of the determinate type. The vines of indeterminate plants continue to grow until frost or disease kills them. Many of the standard-sized, all-summer tomatoes typical of the home garden are of the indeterminate type. They require support of some kind for best results, since the fruit would otherwise be in contact with the soil and thus susceptible to rot.

Why It's Good for You

Abundant in the summer in
all shapes and colors, tomatoes contain a red pigment called lycopene. Studies show this pigment is a potent cancer fighter and regular consumption of tomatoes and products such as tomato sauce may help lower prostate cancer risk.

Did You Know

Although actually a fruit, tomatoes are treated as a vegetable in part due to their unique flavor which combines low sugar content with large amounts of savory glutamic acids and sulphur compounds. Similar flavor properties are also found in meats which is one of the reasons why tomatoes complement so many meaty dishes. The same flavor compounds may also be why rotten tomatoes smell especially foul!


Pest Management

Keep a good eye on your tomato crop because there are several little pests ready to eat away at all your hard work.
  • Aphids
    Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects with long, slender mouth parts that they use to pierce stems, leaves, and other tender plant parts and suck out plant fluids. Almost every plant has one or more aphid species that occasionally feeds on it. Many aphid species are difficult to distinguish; however, identification to species is not necessary to control them in most situations.
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  • Armyworms
    Armyworm larvae feed in groups, which distinguishes them from other vegetable pests such as corn earworms and loopers. Markings on newly hatched armyworms are usually hard to distinguish from those of other caterpillars; older larvae have distinct lengthwise stripes. The surface of the armyworm skin is smooth.
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  • Buffalo treehopper
    Treehopper adults are commonly greenish to brown and 0.5 inch long or shorter. Covering the body, they have an expanded hood that may be formed into hornlike projections. Nymphs have numerous spines on the back of the abdomen, and both immatures and adults jump readily.
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  • Cutworms
    Cutworms are dull brown caterpillars that curl into a C-shape when disturbed. Normally they are found on or just below the soil surface or on lower parts of plants and are commonly active at night. They are smooth skinned and have various markings.
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  • Flea beetles
    Flea beetles are small, shiny beetles with black legs enlarged for jumping.
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  • Hornworms
    Hornworms of all sizes have a distinctive horn at the rear end. Mature caterpillars are very large -- up to 4 inches long.
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  • Leafminers
    Leafminer adults are small black and yellow flies. Larvae are yellowish maggots that feed beneath the leaf surface.
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  • Loopers
    dLoopers are green with several white stripes down their backs. They arch their backs as they crawl, this looping movement giving them their name. The most common looper is the cabbage looper, Trichoplusia ni.
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  • Lygus bugs
    Adult lygus bugs are green, straw yellow, or brown with a conspicuous yellow or pale green triangle on their backs. Nymphs are light green.
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  • Nematodes
    Nematodes are microscopic, eel-like roundworms. The most troublesome species in the garden are those that live and feed within plant roots most of their lives and those that live freely in the soil and feed on plant roots. Although there are many different species of root-feeding nematodes in California, the most important in gardens are the root knot nematodes (Meloidogyne species). Root knot nematodes attack a wide range of plants, including many common vegetables, fruit trees, and ornamentals. They are difficult to control and can be spread easily from garden to garden in soil (for example, on tools, boots, etc.) and plant parts. A number of other nematode species may also damage home garden and landscape plants, including the citrus nematode (Tylenchulus semipenetrans), the ring nematode (Criconemoides xenoplax), root lesion nematodes (Pratylenchus spp.), the stem and bulb nematode (Ditylenchus dipsaci), the sugarbeet cyst nematode (Heterodera schachtii), and others. Table 1 lists some common garden plant species and their nematode pests.
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  • Potato tuberworm
    Potato tuberworm larvae are dull white to pinkish and do not grow longer than 0.5 inch. They have dark heads. They are found tunneling in tubers, stems, fruit, or leaves.
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  • Snails and Slugs
    Snails and slugs are among the most bothersome pests in many garden and landscape situations. The brown garden snail (Helix aspersa) is the most common snail causing problems in California gardens; it was introduced from France during the 1850s for use as food.
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  • Stink bugs
    Stink bugs are shield-shaped bugs with a large scutellum or triangle on their backs. Most bugs are brown or green with red, pink, or yellow markings.
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  • Thrips
    Thrips, order Thysanoptera, are tiny, slender insects with fringed wings. They feed by puncturing their host and sucking out the cell contents. Certain thrips species are beneficial predators that feed only on mites and other insects. Beneficial species include black hunter thrips and the sixspotted thrips. Pest species (often in the family Thripidae) are plant feeders that scar leaf, flower, or fruit surfaces or distort plant parts. Other species of thrips feed on fungal spores and pollen and are innocuous.
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  • Tomato fruitworm (Corn earworm)
    The color of this species varies and is not reliable for identification. Older larvae have distinct stripes along sides and many short, whiskerlike spines over the body surface.
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  • Tomato pinworm
    Tomato pinworm caterpillars are tiny and have a mottled pattern. The color varies from gray to yellowish with red or purple coloring around each segment. Caterpillars may sometimes be quite dark.
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  • Tomato russet mite
    Tomato russet mites are so tiny they cannot be seen without a hand lens. You will see the bronzing they cause on leaves first. Russet mites are conical in shape and yellowish, tan, or pink.
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  • Vegetable weevil
    Weevil larvae are green, legless grubs about 0.38 inch long when full grown. Adults are small (0.38 inch long) brown or gray snout beetles with a V-shaped spot at the tip of the wings. They cannot fly. Vegetable weevils have only one generation a year, but adults may live 2 years or more.
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  • Whiteflies
    Whiteflies are tiny, sap-sucking insects that are frequently abundant in vegetable and ornamental plantings. They excrete sticky honeydew and cause yellowing or death of leaves. Outbreaks often occur when the natural biological control is disrupted. Management is difficult.
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  • Wireworms
    Wireworm larvae are slender, cylindrical insects. They are usually yellowish and resemble mealworms. They have six short legs close together near the head. Adults are click beetles; they do not weaken older plants.
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