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

For instance, the first cookbook to mention tomatoes on the European continent was published in Naples in 1692, but it wasn't until 1752 that English cooks took the gastronomic leap, although with remarkable trepidation, when they began employing the tomato in the flavoring of soups. The disdain with which the tomato was first greeted in North America is a thing of legend, although, finally, by 1865, horticulturist Fearing Burr was listing 24 varieties in his The Field and Garden Vegetables of America, writing: ". . . to a majority of tastes, the tomato's flavor is not at first particularly agreeable; but by those accustomed to its use, it is esteemed one of the best, as it is also reputed to be one of the most healthful, of all garden vegetables."

Try this tomato in your garden

Out of the bevy of beautiful tomato varieties available to us today, I believe the best I can do in this volume is to offer up to the reader a brief, becoming range in terms of form, color, and taste and, certainly, even an abbreviated list would not be complete without the exotic Green Zebra. This beautiful twentieth-century hybrid was developed by Tom Wagner of Tater Mater Seeds in 1985 and, as you might assume, it is both green and striated. When ripe, Green Zebra's lovely 3-ounce fruits are striped from stem to base in complex shadings of yellow, amber, and deep green, and borne on handsome, indeterminate vines growing to 8 feet or more.

I'm very fond of growing Green Zebra up a teepee with a medium-yellow or red-fruited variety like Garden Peach or Enchantment for nice color contrast.

Transplant 4- to 6-week-old Green Zebra seedlings out into the garden in a well-mulched, sunny spot 2 weeks after your frost date and you should be harvesting these sweet, zingy beauties about 77 days from transplant. Considered a uniquely delicious salad tomato, Green Zebra's light green flesh is exceptionally flavorful, with a nice balance of the sweet and the tart. As well, all tomatoes are excellent sources of vitamins A and C, lycopene, magnesium, and iron, so I suggest chopping up a basketful of these with some Vidalia Onion, a jalapeƱo pepper, fresh cilantro, a shake of salt, and a squeeze of lime juice into a gorgeous green salsa.

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