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Melinda MyersNationally known gardening expert, TV/Radio host, author & columnist with over 30 years of horticulture experience and tons of gardening information to share! www.melindamyers.com
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One of our most popular vegetables the tomato had to travel from its native home of Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia to Europe before finding its way into North American gardens and meals.
Early explorers collected and brought wild tomatoes back home to Europe. Italians were the first Europeans to eat the fruit in 1550. By the mid-18th century it became important as a food plant in Italy and to some extent in other European countries.
It made its way into US food gardens by the late 1700’s. For years many believed the fruit was poisonous and refused to eat or include them in their recipes.
Today you can choose from a large variety of tomatoes. Plant breeders work to improve the size, texture and productivity. The various shapes and colors, however, are the same as those found in the wild by the earliest explorers.
A bit more information: The tomatoes’ native habitat in the moderate mountainous regions of Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia explains why wild and cultivated tomatoes are not real tolerant of excessive heat or cold. If you experience either extreme during the growing season, select varieties bred to tolerate those conditions.