Landscaping & Nursery Information for Home Gardeners


Botanically speaking, the tomato you eat is a fruit. So is a watermelon, green pepper, eggplant, cucumber, and squash. A "fruit" is any fleshy material covering a seed or seeds.

Horticulturally speaking, the tomato is a vegetable plant. The plant is an annual and nonwoody. Most fruits, from a horticulture perspective, are grown on a woody plant (apples, cherries, raspberries, oranges) with the exception of strawberries.

In 1893, the United States Supreme Court ruled the tomato was a "vegetable" and therefore subject to import taxes. The suit was brought by a consortium of growers who wanted it declared a vegetable to protect U.S. crop development and prices. Fruits, at that time, were not subjected to import taxes and foreign countries could flood the market with lower priced produce. (A hundred years really hasn't changed anything.)

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Ripening Tomatoes

Tomato plants pulled just before the first early fall frost will ripen all nearly mature fruits if hung upside down in a cool closet. Before hanging remove all  fruits that have not reached the glistening skin stage.  They are too green to count on, but they make good  pickles.

Adapted from: Gardening Short Cuts

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