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Tomato–Origin, History, and Cultivation

The tomato (solanum lycopersicum) is one of the most widely grown and consumed fruits worldwide. From pizzas, sauces, and salads, tomatoes are used in some of the most loved dishes around the globe. Let’s have a look at the origin, history, and cultivation of tomatoes.

Origin of the Tomato

The tomato is native to South America, just like the potato, and belongs to the same botanical family: Solanaceae. Formerly called the "Apple of Peru," it is now cultivated worldwide.

A fruit from South America, with wild forms found in Peru and Ecuador, Aztecs were the first to cultivate 'tomalt' as they called it.

The conquistadors imported the tomato to Europe during the 16th century. It wasn’t until the 18th century that tomatoes were consumed as food and appeared in seed catalogs (1778). With the Revolution, Parisians discovered the tomato, thanks to the people of Marseille. However, it was not until the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century that its consumption became more democratized and its supply of seeds diversified.

In the 19th century, European migrants took tomato seeds to the US, enabling the country to manufacture the most famous ketchup in the world. The country also became one of the largest current producers behind China which although not consuming tomatoes, has made it a mega-industry and is even relocating to Africa.

About Tomato Cultivation

Large retailers now want to offer tomatoes all year round, beyond the greenhouse crops practiced on a large scale. It is the above-ground crops that have taken over with firm varieties.

Faced with these drifts of the industrialization of tomatoes in all sauces, it goes without saying that growing tomatoes in home gardens has become a common practice and a priority for any gardener.

The cultivation of tomatoes can produce up to a vegetable of 2 kg, or even more. It can be of different colors - red, orange, yellow, and green, etc with varying shapes - oblong, round, elongated, and heart-shaped, with sweet and fragrant flesh.

The tomato needs a few months before harvest, from July to September, for its peak production period. It is easy to plant because it adapts to different types of soil. However, the land must be well prepared and enriched with composted manure. It is recommended to mulch the soil around the base of the tomato to keep it moist. To obtain early production, the tomato is planted in greenhouses.

The tomato is sensitive to certain diseases such as mildew, black bottom, or verticillium wilt. It can grow with the nasturtiums, which attract aphids, and also near the basil, which repels aphids.

To grow well, the tomato needs potash, phosphorus found in "special tomato" fertilizers that do not contain nitrogen.

As it grows, the stem of tomatoes becomes gnarled and large. Therefore, it needs a stake because the fruits are heavy. In addition, it is also important to practice a good crop rotation on the same land to protect it from parasitic insects.

Author: Amita Vadlamudi.

Amita Vadlamudi
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