Tomato plants have a variety of uses that include more than just harvesting the ripe fruit to eat. Grow these useful plants in your garden to take advantage of all their helpful properties.
The moist, sweet fruit of the tomato plant, once thought to be poisonous, is now eaten throughout the world. Tomatoes are used raw and cooked, in a whole, diced and even pureed form to add sweetness and acidity to a variety of cuisines.
Tomato seeds harvested from the inside of the fresh fruit are cleaned and dried to be planted in the future. Some rare heirloom varieties of seeds are highly treasured, and old-world types are protected for future generations through this seed-saving process.
Although toxic, tomato leaves are still used in cooking to provide a unique, fresh flavor. The toxin contained in the leaves and found in green tomatoes is called tomatine. Tomatine is not absorbed by the human body in harmful levels when eaten in normal quantities.
Climbing tomato plant vines will quickly form a natural sunshade to protect your more heat- and light-sensitive plants. Provide a trellis or support system to allow vines to grow upward and keep new growth off the ground.
Tomato plants will attract a variety of insects to your garden. Use these insects to formulate a real-world lesson for kids on plant and bug interaction. Capture and feed the insects your tomatoes attract to a chicken, bird or Venus Flytrap.