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Lycopersicon esculentum

Tomato, Lycopersicon esculentumThe tomato is probably the most commonly grown food plant.  Almost every back yard gardener has given them a try.  Tomatoes come in an ever increasing number of varieties.  Even some that bear fruit all winter (if we don't get a really hard frost.  But they all start out looking pretty much like this.

Tomato, Lycopersicon esculentumThese are the flowers of the tomato.  If you pick a variety designed for your climate, they are generally not very hard to grow, and care for.

Tomato, Lycopersicon esculentumThe reward for the effort, of course, is the fruit.  Again, there are many varieties most red, some yellow.  Some have very large fruit, some intermediate like these, some have clusters of small fruit (cherry tomatoes), or even smaller (grape tomatoes).  I usually plant several varieties, then forget what their names were.

Tomato, Lycopersicon esculentumA common problem with tomatoes, especially when planted in the same ground year after year, is fusarium wilt.  The fusarium only effects the plants when the need for water is high in hot weather.  Since I don't need to make a living from my tomatoes, I simply replace the plants which don't survive after the weather cools.  Most people who grow tomatoes are familiar with tomato wormsArgentine ants like to tend nymphs of keeled treehoppers on tomato plants.  Planting marigolds among the tomatoes discourages the ants.

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