Family: Solanaceae

Countries: Mexico, South America

Tomatoes, also known by their botanical name of Solanum lycopersium, are an easy to grow, delicious crop.  Tomatoes are a member of the Solanaceae family, they are related to potatoes and deadly nightshade.

Tomato plants are tender – frost kills these plants.  In the UK, tomato seeds are usually sown in pots and started off on window sills, or undercover inside polytunnels or greenhouses, to give the plants a head start.  Tomato seeds can be sown undercover from February to April.  Tomato plants can be planted outside in early summer, once all risk of frost has passed, or the tomato plants can remain where they are, and can be grown on inside polytunnels or greenhouses.

Tomato plants can be grown in the ground or in containers.  Many advances have been made with tomato growing and breeding – grafted tomato plants are now widely available.

Although tomatoes are easy to grow, these plants do suffer from quite a number of pests and diseases, so not every plant makes it through to produce and harvest ripe tomatoes successfully.

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