Are Tomatoes a Fruit or vegetable? fresh tomatoes from our garden are wonderful

Are tomatoes a fruit? That is a question that has been asked for centuries.

It depends if you are asking a botanist or a cook. The botanist will tell you technically a tomato is a fruit. A fruit is from the ovary part of the flower and it contains seeds. That's the definition of a green pea, a squash, okra, peppers, cucumbers and many other so-called 'vegetables'. Botanically, they all are fruits.

A vegetable comes from other parts of the plant. Like potatoes and carrots are part of the roots. Spinach and lettuce are the leaves of the plant. Bamboo shoots and rhubarb are stems. These are vegetables.

Cooks classify fruits and vegetables according to how they use them. Rhubarb is used as a dessert, so cooks consider it a fruit. Tomatoes are used with other vegetables in salads, and pasta etc. So to a cook, the tomato is a vegetable. Even though botanically speaking, tomatoes are a fruit. Whew!

Are tomatoes a fruit of a vegetable?Are tomatoes a fruit or a vegetable?
Image by kie-ker from Pixabay

are tomatoes a fruit?

Whatever tomatoes are - they are delicious and nutritious!

Tomatoes contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant found in just a few foods. They also contain carotenoids, vitamins A, C and E.

  • In an effort to makes tomatoes last longer for shipping and on the grocery self, the good flavor has been bred out of tomatoes.

When I was studying horticulture in college, they were trying to breed square tomatoes, so more of them would pack into a shipping box. What a novel idea, but I'm glad they didn't succeed.

Are tomatoes a fruit or a square, red shipping box? They are a delicious red fruit full of all kinds of good stuff.

The good stuff in tomatoes

let's grow some tomatoes

Home-grown tomatoes are delicious, compared to supermarket tomatoes. So are tomatoes a fruit, it doesn't matter.

Tomatoes are the most popular home grown 'vegetable'. There is nothing like the treat of fresh garden tomatoes on the dinner table.

what do tomatoes require?

  • Tomatoes prefer a well-drained soil, but they will grow in most any type of soil.
  • They like 6 hours of sun per day.
  • They don't take much care, just good watering and a bit of fertilizer when they are fruiting.

The small cherry tomato types will harvest in 50 to 55 days after planting a seedling. The larger tomatoes take 55 to 85 days to harvest.

Most tomatoes will continue to produce all summer up until frost.

two types of tomatoes

Are tomatoes a fruit? Yes, they are and there are two groups of tomatoes.

HEIRLOOM TOMATOES are open-pollinated tomatoes. This means you can save the seed. Plant the seed the next year and it will come true year after year.

  • You may save your own tomato seeds from a ripe fruit. Spread out the fleshy insides of the tomato containing the seeds, on a paper towel to dry.
  • When the seeds are thoroughly dry, place the seeds in a zip-lock bag or small jar with a lid.
  • Store the seeds in a cool dry place. In the freezer the seeds will last well. It's a good thing to know, if the seeds become unavailable for some reason.

HYBRID TOMATOES are produced by crossing different varieties. There are many delicious hybrid tomatoes.

They will not come true from the seeds you save from a fruit. The seedlings could have all kinds of variations, much like our parents had children that were all different. No two are alike.

Are tomatoes a fruit or a vegetable? Heirloom and hybrid tomatoes botanically are both fruits.

You have a choice of many tomato varieties.You have a choice of many tomato varieties.
Image by StephanieAlbert from Pixabay

what tomatoes are good for your garden?

Plant labels or seed packets give you good information for choosing tomatoes.


  • These initials are for tomato diseases that may attack your tomatoes and cause their demise.

F - is for fusarium wilt that can attack tomatoes in the middle of the summer.

V - is for verticillium wilt that may attack tomatoes in the cool spring weather. Verticillium can spread to other plants such as; potatoes, eggplants, strawberries and black raspberries.

  • These are soil borne diseases that can survive in the soil for years. Purchase your plants from reputable dealers that fumigate or otherwise sterilize their soil to kill the soil pathogens.
  • It's not worth the chance of potentially introducing these diseases into your garden.
  • Both of these wilt diseases, stop up the water transport system coming from the roots. The plant will yellow and eventually die.

N - is for nematodes, little worms that attack the tomato roots. Galls form on the roots where they are attacked. The plant is weakened and wilts. Nematodes can also live in the soil for years.

  • Plant marigold flowers next to your tomatoes to repel the nematodes.

TMV - is for tobacco mosaic virus that causes mottling and yellowing of the leaves, less production, smaller tomatoes or brown fruit.

So much for the bad stuff. Let's grow some vegetables. Or are tomatoes a fruit? Ha Ha


DETERMINATE tomato varieties stop growing and tend to produce all their fruit at one time, over 4 to 6 weeks. This is good, if you want to do some canning. You get more fruit at once. They generally are a bushy plant that is not staked or caged.

INDETERMINATE tomatoes keep growing and producing fruit the entire season. They provide a supply of tomatoes for the table until frost. These plants need to be staked or caged.

TOMATO VARIETIES; The heirloom, open-pollinated varieties are marked with an asterisk. Are these tomatoes a fruit? We will call them vegetables.

CHERRY TYPES; Super Sweet, Black Cherry*, Sweet Million, Sun Gold*, Yellow Pear*, Red Pear*

SLICING TOMATOES; Brandywine*, Early Girl, Better Boy, Big Boy, Beefsteak, Rutgers*, Celebrity

VARIOUS; Cherokee Purple*, Lemon Boy, Mr. Stripey*, Pineapple*, German Pink, Black Krim*

CONTAINER TOMATOES; Tiny Tim, Small Fry, Pixie, Toy Boy, Patio, Salad Top, Tumbling Tom, Early Salad

Canning tomatoes have more flesh, fewer seeds and less juice. That makes them easier to handle during the canning process.

CANNING; San Marzano*, Roma*, Amish Paste*, Bison*, Better Boy, Clint Eastwood’s Rowdy Red, Big Mama, Jersey Giant*, Beefsteak


You may start your own tomato seeds about 8 to 10 weeks before the last frost.

Incorporate plenty of organic matter into the soil before planting.

Plant your seedlings or ones from the garden store into your garden after the last spring frost.

  • Plant them 3 to 4 feet apart, if you are not going to stake them. If you are going to stake or cage them, plant them 1 1/2 to 3 feet apart.
  • Plant the seedlings deep into the soil. Bury the stem all the way up to just below the first set of leaves. The extra stem under the soil will grow roots. More roots will give you a stronger plant.

You can grow your tomatoes from seed.You can grow your tomatoes from seed.
Image by AndreasGoellner from Pixabay

CARE - You may stake your plants with a 6 foot 1x1 inch stake driven into the soil, a foot away from the stem. Drive the stakes at the same time you plant your tomatoes. Staking after the tomato plant is growing, may damage the roots.

If you have just a few plants, tomato cages are a good option. They are so easy. Purchase them at any garden store, Home Depot, Lowes, etc. Place one tomato cage around each plant.

  • Stakes or tomato cages keep the fruit up off the ground and prevent rot, discoloration or pest damage.

You may also plant tomatoes in containers or hanging baskets. The tomatoes will hang over the sides of the basket and are quite attractive and easy to pick.

  • Water your tomato plants regularly. Tomatoes have deep roots, so water deeply.

When the keto friendly fruit start forming, be sure and water regularly. The fruit will start to set when the nights are 55 degrees or warmer.

  • Pull the weeds. The tomatoes appreciate some mulch to maintain even soil moisture and prevent the fruit from cracking. Mulch also helps to prevent weed growth.
  • After the fruit sets, apply a mild fertilizer every 2 weeks. Place the fertilizer a few inches away from the stem to prevent burning it.

Do not fertilize a dry plant. After you fertilize the tomato, water the fertilizer in.

Remember too much nitrogen (the first of the 3 numbers on the fertilizer container) will grow a lot of leaves, but not much fruit.

Pinch off the suckers that grow in the joints where the branches attach to the main stem.

HARVEST - Pick your tomato vegetables when they are red and juicy. (Or are tomatoes a fruit?) They should pull off the vines easily, if they are ripe.

  • Keep the ripe tomatoes picked. If they are left on the plant, it will stop producing.

When the fall frosts are on their way, pinch off the terminal growths and any flowers. The tomatoes on the plant will ripen faster.

You may pick the green tomatoes for a tasty fried treat. Or wrap them in newspaper and store them in a cool place at 58 degrees. When you want them to ripen, bring them into a 70 degree temperature.

  • Pull your tomato vines and destroy them or otherwise remove them from your property to control any pests or diseases.
  • Plant your tomatoes in a different place each year.

are tomatoes are a fruit? we don't wonder, we just enjoy them!

what about flowers? you can grow roses or daisies

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