Tomatoes: this Peruvian native is now a world-wide favorite
|Tomatoes are native to Peru, but |
are now a major crop world-wide
BUT... The acceptance of tomatoes as an edible crop was a bit rocky.
The tomato is native to Peru. It’s a member of the nightshade family, which includes some famously poisonous plants such as belladonna, which is native to the Mediterranean area. So, acceptance of tomatoes as an edible crop in Europe was slow. In addition, some of the first tomato cuisine was served to European upper-class people on pewter dishes or with pewter cutlery and the acid in the tomatoes released the lead from that metal, which did actually poison some people. Many people called it the love apple and thought they would die if they ate it.
|Tomato reluctance in the Mediterranean |
countries until the Neapolitan pizzaiolo
|Thomas Jefferson raised and ate tomatoes,
but many people were reluctant to do the same.
|Col. Johnson broke the tomato reluctance with
his stunt of eating tomatoes on a courthouse step.
Growing tomatoes in Florida
|My tomato seedlings soaking up
the winter sun as their trays
sit on a sidewalk to stay warmer.
|Cherry tomatoes are somewhat more tolerant
of higher nighttime low temperature levels.
|My early girl tomatoes graced the cover of our
"Organic Methods for Vegetable Gardening in Florida"
|We're looking forward to this!|
So I hope you've already started your tomato seeds to set out for your early spring crop. If not, you can buy tomato plants from garden centers to set out in your spring gardens, but this will limit your options to only a few popular cultivars. You can also buy seeds now and get them started in your late summer gardens so by the time they are ready to bloom, the low nighttime temperatures will be below 70 degrees for a good fall crop.