Gardens - Fruit & Vegetable Gardening

Five seductive vegetables for your garden

Discover the origins and plant lore of these intriguing edibles and learn how to make them thrive in your garden


zebra-tomatos.jpgGreen Zebra Tomato

Solanum lycopersicon esculentum

In 1887 in Nix v. Hedden, in order to protect the American farmer from untaxed imports, Justice Gray of the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the tomato, although botanically speaking a fruit, was for official purposes a vegetable, citing: "tomatoes are the fruit of a vine, just as are cucumbers, squashes, beans and peas. But in the common language of the people . . . all these are vegetables, which are grown in kitchen gardens, and . . . are usually served at dinner in, with, or after the soup, fish or meats . . . and not, like fruits generally, as dessert."

The top tomato-producing countries in the world are the United States, China, Turkey, Italy, and India, with the United States topping the list, Americans consuming over 12 million tons of tomatoes annually, which is a lot of salsa. Culinary stardom, however, came very late in time for the much-maligned tomato. Prized historically by the natives of South America and Mexico, tomatoes found their way into Spain and Portugal near the turn of the sixteenth century with the returning conquistadores, but there they languished for centuries in a kind of gastronomic purgatory. In fact, it really wasn't until the second half of the nineteenth century that tomatoes finally achieved the kind of universal acceptance they currently enjoy.

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