Rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, the nutritional fruit of the tomato plant is enjoyed worldwide for its health benefits and its savory flavor. Tomatoes ripen in the summer, showcasing a bright red that is a pleasure to view in the garden. There are numerous varieties of tomato plants, each with its own merits.
The biggest variety of cultivated tomato, Beefsteak plants produce large, somewhat lumpy fruits that are either red or pink. Beefsteak tomatoes are popular for sandwiches, since a slice will often cover an entire piece of bread. These plants are excellent for cultivation because they aren't seen as often in supermarkets as other varieties of tomato. Like most tomato species, Beefsteak tomatoes require full sun and moist, well-drained soil.
Cherry tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum var. cerasiforme) are a popular tomato variety, enjoyed for their small fruits that make excellent additions to salads.The plants will produce fruit in warmer climates, often when larger tomato species will fail to produce. Cherry tomatoes require moist, well-drained soil and full sunlight. Gardeners who are eager for an early crop can plant the tomatoes in a hanging planter, allowing the roots to warm more quickly; however, doing so will usually result in a shorter lifespan for the plant.
A close relative of the tomato, the tomatillo (Physalis ixocarpa), also called a Mexican green tomato, is an excellent alternative for gardeners who want to grow a less common plant. Native to Mexico and Central America, the tomatillo is a distinct-looking plant that produces green fruits in a papery husk. Grow tomatillos just like regular tomatoes, with plenty of sunlight and moist, well-drained soil. Use the fruits as an ingredient in salsa or in salads.