Tomatoes are the lifeblood of many kitchens across the world. Bite-size grape and cherry varieties are excellent for quick snacks or salads. Paste tomatoes, such as Romas, are the basis for mouthwatering soups and marinara sauces. The sheer size and meatiness of slicing tomatoes, such as the Big Boy and Beefsteak hybrids, pack a flavorful punch on sandwiches or as a side dish.
Once you plant the seeds, sprouting occurs in seven to 14 days. During this phase, the root and shoot systems of the tomato plant form inside the seed. When they exceed the capacity of the seed casing, the root system grows down into the soil, and the shoot system heads north in search of air and light.
When the tomato seed sprouts, vegetation forms above the soil's surface. The stem and leaves form and branches sprout. Finally, blossoms form at points where fruit forms. Once the flowers die off, the ovary that sits at the base of each flower forms the fruit, the tomato.
As the ovaries develop and absorb more moisture and nutrients throughout the fruiting stage, the fruit (now small, hard, green orbs) eventually grows into predetermined shapes and sizes. Once the proper size is reached, the tomatoes change color, depending on their variety. Tomatoes range in color from red, orange, yellow, gold, purple and even brown, with inner flesh that can be a solid color or variegated.
The Afterlife of Tomato Plants
The type of plant determines how many times tomatoes are produced. Determinate varieties fruit once during the growing season, while indeterminate varieties continue to fruit up until the first frost. After fruiting is finished, the tomato plant will die off.