What are the uses of tomato seeds

Tomatoes - varieties, culture and uses


Tomatoes were already cultivated by the Aztecs and Maya and had been in culture for about 500 years - possibly even 1000 years - before they came to us in the 15th century. The wild form of the tomato is still unknown today. Our cultivated tomato is probably a cross between different species (hybrids). It was Christopher Columbus who brought the first tomatoes back to Europe from his second trip to America in 1498. Exactly where the plants came from is no longer known today. In Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru and Mexico there are still wild tomatoes today.
Tomatoes, like potatoes and aubergines, belong to the nightshade family (Solanaceae). Current is the botanical name of the tomato Solanum lycopersicon (Syn. Lycopersicon esculentum). The flowers are small, yellow and five-fold. The 5 anthers have grown together to form a tube from which the stylus with the scar peeks out. The inflorescences are coils or grapes. There are three to about 25 individual flowers on it. The fruit is a berry.
There are 13 types of wild tomatoes. Like the black nightshade, they belong to the genus Solanum and are mostly inedible to poisonous. They are summarized in the Lycopersicon section. For about 20 years they have been crossed into cultivated varieties for their disease resistance, aromatic substances and to improve resistance to drought.
Only the Spaniards immediately used the fruit for food. In the rest of Europe, the tomato was primarily cultivated as an ornamental plant. It was considered poisonous and an aphrodisiac that confuses the senses. In Austria, Hungary and France the names "Paradeiser", "Paradiescom" and "pomme d´amour" have become common. The name, which is otherwise used around the world in slightly modified form for the fruit, comes from the Aztec language: "tomatle" means to swell.
The tomato came to Germany about 120 years ago. Tomatoes are the Germans' favorite fruit vegetables. A total of 24.6 kg per inhabitant was consumed in Germany in 2009/2010. 4.9 kg of it was eaten fresh. The rest was bought as tomato paste, canned, as a sauce or juice. Around 100 million tons of tomatoes are harvested worldwide every year.
There are more than 1000 registered tomato varieties. The smallest tomatoes weigh only about 10 g. The largest tomato is in the Guiness Book of Records at 3.51 kg. However, fruits weighing more than 500 g are rather rare. Only a few types of beefsteak tomatoes regularly produce fruit between 500 and 1000 g.

Tomatoes are divided into groups according to various criteria and there are numerous names.

Number of chambers

2 - 3 (rarely up to 5) chambers, round or flat-round Round tomatoes
Salad tomatoes
Martina, Diplom, Prémio, Mountain Magic, Bocati, Goldene KÖnigin, Harzfeuer, Hilmar, Kalimba, Moneymaker, Vitella
2 chambers, round, oval or pear-shapedCherry tomatoes (up to approx. 20 g) and cocktail tomatoes (approx. 20 to 60 g)Tropical, Nugget, Romello, Vespolino, Lizzano, Delicacy, Yellow Pearshaped, Nectar, Pyros, Limetto, Chocolate Cherry
at least 4, usually 8 to 10 chambers, flat-round, often (strongly) ribbedBeefsteak tomatoesAurea, Pineapple, Saint Pierre, Marmande, Coeur de Boeuff, Purple Calabash, Bernese Rose, White Beauty
Growth type

limited (determined)
after the formation of 4 to 5 fruit clusters the longitudinal growth stops, pruning disturbs the growth, height of growth for normal varieties about 1 m to 1.5 m, potted tomatoes sometimes less than 40 cm, hanging tomatoes with overhanging growth
Bush tomatoes
Siderno, Hoffmanns Rentita, Brillantino, Heartbreakers Vita (pot tomato), Donna (pot tomato), Tumbling Tom Red and Yellow (pot tomato), Red Currant (wild tomato), Romello (pot tomato), Lizzano (pot tomato), Vilma (pot tomato), Balkonstar ( Potted tomato), totem (potted tomato)
unlimited (indeterminate)
Unlimited growth, new side shoots and inflorescences are constantly being formed, long harvest, pruning of side shoots necessary to improve ripening
Stick tomatoes
Harzfeuer, Prémio, Primavera, Money Maker, Phantasia, Philovita, Phantasia, Tropical, Himmelsstürmer, Matias, Dolce Vita, Licobello
Salad tomatoes, cherry tomatoesPrémio, Mountain Magic, Bocati, Dolcevita, Lizzano, Romello, Rote Murmel, Golden Currant, Tumbling Tom Red and Tumbling Tom Yellow
flat roundSalad tomatoes and beefsteak tomatoes
Myrto, Golden Queen, Diploma, Saint Pierre, Marmande, Country Taste, Delizia
bag-shaped and ribbedtypical for beefsteak tomatoes
Coeur de Boeuff, Aurea
heart-shapedHeart tomatoesHeartbreakers Vita
oval, plum-shaped, egg-shapedEgg or plum tomatoes Agro, Dasher, Nugget, Delicacy
pear-shapedoften cocktail tomatoes
Red pearshaped, yellow pearshaped (= yellow pear)
elongated, cylindrical
Bottled tomatoes
Roma tomatoes
San Marzano tomatoes
Date tomatoes
Pozzano, Banana Legs, Corianne, Caprese, Santorange, Roma, San Marzano
paprika-shapedBell Pepper TomatoesPaprika-shaped, licobello, yellow pepper tomatoes, yellow stuffer (= yellow for filling)
Fruit weightvery small (15 to 20 g)Cherry tomatoes, cherry tomatoes
Primavera, Tropical, Tumbling Tom Red, Tumbling Tom Yellow, Lizzano, Ropmello, Vespolino, Rote Murmel, Golden Currant, Dolce Vita, Philovita, Dasher
small (20 to 60 g)Cocktail tomatoes (round, oval or pear-shaped)Santorange (date tomato / plum tomato), Vilma, Picolino, Licobello, Zebrino
medium (60 - 100 g)Salad tomatoes, Roma tomatoesGolden Queen, Roma, Hilmar, Mountain Magic, Bocati
large (100 to over 200 g, up to 1 kg possible)mostly beefsteak tomatoes (flat-round, ribbed or heart-shaped)Maranello, Saint Pierre, Marmande, Pineapple, Beafsteak, Country Taste
Harvest type
all fruits of a panicle ripen at the same time and can be harvested togetherVine tomato
Truss tomato
Tropical, Aranca, Furore, Jamaica, Rougella
the fruits ripen gradually and are harvested individually
for single crop, most varietiesPrémio, Mountain Magic, Pineapple, Harzfeuer, Tigerella, Matina and many more

Stick tomatoes grow on the trien tips during the entire vegetation period and constantly form side shoots. They are pulled with a single drive and have to be supported with rods, rods or cords, otherwise their stems will not hold them upright. The plants reach heights of 2 m or more. In commercial cultivation, the plants are grown to a length of six meters or more in the course of cultivation and are sometimes harvested over a period of 10 months. In the home garden you will stop growth at some point by removing the shoot tips because the last fruits will not ripen without a heated greenhouse. Side shoots must be broken out regularly.
Bush tomatoes become only about 1.2 to 1.5 m high and then stop growing on their own. They only form around 3 - 5 fruit panicles per shoot, then growth stops and the side shoots bring new flowers and fruits. Removing the side shoots therefore hinders growth and reduces the yield. Typical varieties are ´Hoffmanns Rentita´ and ´Siderno´.
Newer varieties are specially bred for cultivation on terraces and balconies without a vegetable patch or greenhouse. With this, the growers are following the trend towards City Gardening, Patio Gardening (gardening without a garden) and gardening in the smallest of spaces, on green walls, in small and sometimes mobile raised beds, pots, tubs and hanging baskets. Potted tomatoes are only about 30 to 40 cm high. You just put them in a 14-cup pot on the patio table and nibble straight from the bush. Traffic light tomatoes like ´Lizzano´ and ´Romello´ have long overhanging shoots. Again and again new fruits form on them, which can be picked all summer.
Most types of tomatoes are among the Salad tomatoes or round tomatoes. They are juicy and have a lot of jelly (pulp) and seeds. The term "light fruit" also appears in many cases. These are tomatoes that come from the tomato variety ´pellfruit´, which can be reproduced without any seeds. It occurred as a mutation. It is typical that the unripe fruits around the stem base do not have a dark green color, but are uniformly light green (e.g. ´Moneymaker´, ´Light fruit´). Such varieties do not have a green collar or yellow collar. But they also develop about 30% less aroma and sweetness than other varieties because they lack the chlorophyll (the green color) in the fruits, which enables them to produce sugar themselves. (see "Taste as before?")
Salad or round tomatoes are available loose or as Truss or vine tomatoes. "Vine tomato" is a commercial form. There are varieties that ripen so evenly that the whole panicle ripens all at once. By cutting back the flower buds to 5 or 6, the same result can be achieved with other varieties. Mainly, the stalk that is harvested along with it provides a lot of fresh scent.
Flavored or cocktail tomatoes are particularly small, aromatic varieties. They range in size from about the size of a cherry to the size of a golf ball. Their shape can be round, oval or oblong.
Cherry tomatoes or cherry tomatoes are very small, rounded to egg-shaped varieties, the fruits of which are roughly the size of a cherry and weigh up to 10 or 25 g. They are very sweet and fruity and are mainly used as snack vegetables and decoration.
Roma, egg, flat, San Marzano or Pomodori tomatoes are egg to bottle shaped. These varieties have few seeds and a lot of pulp. They are used for canning, for example. They are oblong-cylindrical and have two to three fruit chambers. They are typical of Italian cuisine. San Marzano types are named after a place between Nocera and Sarno in Italy. The shape of the fruit is elongated with a waist (bottle tomato). These varieties have a very low water content. As a result, they are too dry to be eaten fresh and taste floury. However, they remain firm when cooked and are suitable for making tomato paste, for grilling and gratinating. Roma tomatoes are egg-shaped and more juicy. They can be used for cooking and also fresh. Small-fruited varieties are also known as date tomatoes and are often sold as cocktail tomatoes.
Beefsteak tomatoes have large, fleshy fruits with little jelly around the seeds. They have a weight of 100 to 1000 g. (e.g. 'pineapple tomato', 'Bellriccio', 'Matias'). "Oxheart" or "Coeur de Boeuf" are bag-shaped beefsteak tomatoes with characteristic folds (´Aurea´). Flat-round, ribbed and indented beefsteak tomatoes are called Marmande types because they resemble the ´Marmande´ known since the 19th century.
In addition to red tomatoes, there are also yellow, orange, green, white and brown tomatoes. Some varieties are striped (´Zebrino´, ´Green Zebra´).
Hollow-fruited tomatoes are a specialty. The ´Yellow Stuffer´, ´Liberty Bell´ and ´Cavern´ are hollow inside and can be filled easily.

The names for tomatoes therefore depend on their size (e.g. cherry tomato or cocktail tomato), their shape (e.g. bottle tomato), their use (meat tomato) and the type of growth (stick or bush tomato). We should know some of the names in order to choose the right variety. The normal, round-fruited salad tomatoes are good as a topping on bread and for salads. Cherry and cocktail tomatoes are more aromatic and are ideal as snack vegetables and for decoration. San Marzano tomatoes are good for cooking and grilling, less suitable for fresh consumption. Bush tomatoes grow only to a limited extent and are better suited for use in pots or small greenhouses. Stake tomatoes continue to grow indefinitely at the top and form many side shoots that have to be pinched off. But they are also the most productive varieties.

The right tomato for the location

The taste is only one criterion for choosing a variety. The space available is also particularly important. There are special, very small varieties for gardening on the balcony and terrace. ´Lizzano´ and ´Romello´ are two delicious, sweet cherry tomatoes that take up little space but can bear up to 1000 small fruits. For the culture in traffic lights ´Pendulina Red´, ´Tumbling Tom Red´ and the yellow ´Tumbling Tom Yellow´ are also suitable. ´Siderno´ is resistant to late blight and brown rot and grows so compactly that it can easily stand in the bucket on the terrace. ´Donna´, ´Vilma´ and ´Heartbreaker's Vita´® can be cultivated in pots or in window boxes.
No tomato likes the cold or constantly wet leaves. However, some varieties are more resilient than others and can still grow well even under unfavorable conditions. If you have a tomato greenhouse, there are no limits to your choice of varieties. Protected from moisture, wind and excessive temperature fluctuations, all tomatoes develop well. If you don't have a greenhouse, you can build a roof for your plants that protects them from rain. Because wet leaves increase the risk of fungal infections. Only particularly robust varieties are suitable for cultivation in unprotected open ground. The cherry tomato ´Primavera´ and the salad tomato ´Premio´ are new varieties that were specially bred for outdoor hobby cultivation. They are very resistant to fungal diseases and bad weather. ´Diplom´ is very popular in organic farming and can be cultivated in unprotected beds. Wild tomatoes such as the ´currant tomato´, ´Rote Marble´ or ´Golden Currant´ are also very robust. They grow very vigorously and are very branchy. For example, they can grow along fences. The old varieties and the wild tomatoes are not resistant to late blight and brown rot.

The right tomato to use

Not all varieties are equally suitable for all uses. The small cherry and cocktail tomatoes are fruity and juicy and disappeared with a bite. They are suitable for snacking, for salads and for garnishing. The heart-shaped fruits of ´Heartbreakers Vita´® are particularly appealing. But also the strawberry-like ´gardenberry´ or the paprika-shaped ´Licobello´ are decorative eye-catchers. ´Tropical´ impresses with its particularly long panicles and a fruity, sweet aroma. The brown ´Black Cherry´, the green ´Limetto´ and the yellow varieties ´Sungold´ and ´Yellow Pearshaped´ bring a variety of colors to the plate. The fruits of the round or salad tomatoes weigh up to about 60 to 120 g. They are suitable for salads, sauces and soups. They are also available in all colors. Beefsteak tomatoes have a lot of pulp and little jelly, become big and heavy. They are particularly suitable for casseroles and cooking. ´Aurea´ is a variety of the "ox heart" type. Your fruits weigh about 230 - 260 g. ´Corazon´ is of the same type, but the fruits are only about half the size. ´Marmande´ is a very old variety from France and was cultivated as early as 1880. It forms flat, round, ribbed fruits weighing up to 500 g. ´Country Taste´ and ´Delizia´ are similar to Marmande, but remain significantly smaller with fruit weights of 200 to 250 g. Quite small beefsteak tomatoes are ´Saint Pierre´ and ´Pyros´ with fruits weighing around 100 - 150 g. The yellow-orange ´pineapple tomato´ has a particularly fine aroma that goes well with fruity dressings. It is an all-rounder for salads, casseroles and even jams. Their fruits can weigh up to 1 kg. Roma, San Marzano and bottle tomatoes are particularly suitable for drying and ketchup. The assortment for the home garden is not that big here, but ´Roma´, ´Conqueror´ and ´Pozzano´ are less floury than industrial varieties and also taste very tasty raw.

Buy tomatoes or harvest them yourself?

The tomatoes in the supermarket are sometimes watery and lacking in flavor. The salad tomatoes in particular are often quite tasteless. On the one hand, this is due to the fact that certain, particularly durable and firm varieties are grown for the production of supermarket goods. On the other hand, the tomatoes are harvested before they are fully ripe, especially in autumn and winter when they come from Spain or Morocco, so that they can be stored for longer. The fruits turn red after harvest, but no longer develop an aroma.
If you have the opportunity, you should grow tomatoes yourself on the terrace or balcony or in the garden in a full sun. Even standard varieties have more taste than supermarket fruits when the harvest is fully ripe (see taste as before?). But you can also try out peculiarities that have yellow, orange, white, green or striped fruits. Bell peppers have fruits that are shaped like those of block peppers. Color, shapes and flavors are very different in tomato varieties and more diverse than the supermarket suggests. It is worth trying out.
Buying grafted plants is an easy and relatively quick way to get tomato plants.Due to the resistant base, the young plants are insensitive to harmful fungi from the soil. They are often more vigorous than real roots and can be grown with multiple shoots. This means they bring more income. One disadvantage is the limited range. Those who sow themselves can choose their favorites from 200 or more varieties. The ranges of the brands Kiepenkerl and Sperli include 30 to 40 different tomato varieties of all classes. Anyone looking for typical regional varieties, specialties from the last holiday destination or organically produced seeds will easily find them on the Internet. The book by Coirazza (2010) is also highly recommended. It presents 200 types of tomato and gives various sources of supply in the appendix. For old and rare varieties, for example, Noah's Ark, Flail and the Association for the Conservation of Crop Diversity are suitable contacts.
Those who sow themselves also have to invest some work and care for the plants. Not every fruit is as perfectly round and spotless as the selected fruits that are fresh on the market. When harvesting, the hobby gardener also receives the portion of the fruit that is otherwise processed into ketchup or juice. If the fruits are not sufficiently pollinated, they will not develop. Bad weather can lead to total crop failure. When sowing, one must bear in mind that even fresh and high-quality seeds rarely germinate 100%. A germination rate of 75% is required by law for tomato seeds. Usually the germination capacity is higher, but if one in 5 seeds or two in 8 do not germinate, that is still within the norm. So you don't always get 5 plants from 5 seeds.


If you want to sow tomatoes yourself, you can do so from February to early April, depending on the region. It takes about 8 weeks from sowing to planting. In viticulture climates or if you have a heated greenhouse you can start sowing earlier. In cooler regions, where night frosts can still occur until mid-May, you should not start before mid-March. The plants can only go outdoors after the last frosts.
The seeds are sown in seed trays or pots with aseptic seed compost and covered with soil about 5 mm high. The substrate must now always be slightly damp. At 20 to 25 ° C, the plants germinate after 8 to 14 days. When the plants have the first real leaves, they are pricked either with a distance of 10 x 10 cm in planters or directly in 10 cm pots. They are then further cultivated at 20 to 22 ° C. The location must be bright. In places that are too dark, the plants become yellow and form thin, light green shoots. If only daylight is available at the window, sowing should not start from mid-March.


For healthier and vigorous growth, tomatoes can be grafted on resistant and fast-growing rootstocks. They protect the tomatoes from Fusarium and Verticillium wilt, nematodes and cork root disease. The noble variety then forms the fruit in the desired quality, while a resistant game species or a special variety (´Vigomax´, ´Beaufort´, ´Estamino´) guarantees an optimal supply of nutrients. You can buy grafted young plants in specialist shops. With a little skill you can also refine your own seedlings.
When using a grafting base, the seeds are preferred according to the cultivation instructions. ´Vigomax´ is a wild tomato. The plants are resistant to nematodes and cork root disease, they guarantee higher yields and longer harvests. Due to the strong base, the noble varieties can also be grown with multiple shoots and can supply more panicles. So they bring more fruit.
Rootstock and noble variety are sown at the same time or more strongly growing rootstocks about 3 to 4 days later so that the plants have shoots of about the same size at the time of grafting. The easiest way is to use a finishing set. It includes seeds and fine ceramic sticks.
When refining, you work in a clean, shady place. Hands, knife (or razor blade) and work surface are disinfected. For refinement, the head of the base is cut off below the cotyledons so that a smooth, straight cut surface is created. The stem should be about 2 to 3 mm thick at the point. Now the ceramic stick is inserted halfway into the center of the stem. Then you cut off the shoot of the noble variety so that it is flat and even and has the same thickness as the base at the refinement point. Now the head of the noble variety is placed on the ceramic stick in the base so that the pieces of stalk lie on top of one another. Alternatively, silicone clips can also be used to fix the interface. The plants must be supported by a stick so that the noble variety does not tip over. A transparent vessel or bag is placed over the grafted plant to reduce evaporation. After a week the two plants have grown together.
Depending on the properties of the rootstock, the plants are cultivated normally in accordance with the specifications of the noble variety or as multiple shoots with more panicles.
Underlays only protect the tomatoes from pests in the soil, not from fungi that attack the leaves. For this purpose, appropriately resistant noble varieties must be selected. Preventive measures (favorable location, correct planting distance, choice of variety, cultivation plan) make cultivation without pesticides possible.


Tomatoes must be protected from moisture. A sufficiently large distance allows them to dry off well.

In mid to late May, the young plants are planted outdoors or come outside in pots. Tomatoes grow best in a sunny, sheltered spot. Cultivation in a tomato greenhouse or under a canopy is ideal. The soil must be loose, deep, nutrient-rich and humus.
The planting distance is about 70 x 70 cm. In the case of grafted, multi-shoot plants, the distance should be slightly larger. There must be air between the plants. The leaves must always be able to dry well. The root ball is always planted completely in the ground. He can sit a little lower than before. In the case of grafted plants, however, the grafting point must remain above the ground. The tomatoes are immediately supported with a stick, string or trellis.
Tomatoes do not like soil temperatures below 14 ° C. Sunny, warm locations are essential for a successful culture. To avoid diseases caused by soil-borne pathogens (e.g. Fusarium) as far as possible, tomatoes may only be planted on the same area every 4 to 6 years. In vegetable patches they are therefore included in the crop sequence. But they can also be grown in buckets without any problems.
Tomatoes need to be watered evenly. Irregular watering causes the fruits to burst. Too much water will damage the aroma. So it has to be watered regularly and moderately. The leaves must not get wet when watering. It is best to dig a flower pot near the trunk and pour the irrigation water into it. The leaves below the first fruit cluster are removed so that they cannot get wet.
The plants need sufficient potassium and calcium, especially after the fruit has been set. Too much nitrogen makes the plants susceptible to aphids and fungi. Too much fertilizer also causes the leaves to curl.
With the many varieties you have to break out the side shoots immediately and limit the growth in length by removing the tip above the 5th to 6th inflorescence so that the fruits ripen well. However, there are also varieties for which pricking is not necessary (´Romello´, ´Golden Currant´, ´Lizzano´).
A single plant bears between 3 and 5 kg of fruit, depending on the variety and cultivation conditions. Beefsteak tomatoes carry around 3 to 4 kg, cocktail tomatoes 2 to 3 kg. With early sowing in mid-February, the yields per plant are 1 to 1.5 kg higher than with sowing in mid-March. In tests, an average of around 15 kg of tomatoes per square meter could be harvested.
One to two tomato plants per person cover the annual requirement for fresh consumption. So you don't necessarily need to grow more lettuce, cocktail and cherry tomatoes. If you want to cook or dry tomatoes, you can also grow San Marzano tomatoes, which are particularly suitable for this use. Beef tomatoes are also served as grilled vegetables and for roasting. They can also be boiled down for sauces.

Obtain seeds yourself

Tomatoes are mostly self-fertile. In order to achieve pollination in the greenhouse or in the room, it is sufficient to shake the plants a little daily at lunchtime so that the pollen can fall on the stigma. If you want to cross in a row you have to pollinate with a brush and avoid cross-pollination by covering the flowers with sachets. If self-pollination is also to be excluded, the pollen sacs must be removed from the young flowers.
You can easily extract tomato seeds yourself from fully ripe fruits. The seeds are removed from the pulp with a teaspoon. Together with the jelly surrounding them, they are kept in a mug in a warm place for a few days. It starts a fermentation process through which germ-inhibiting substances are broken down and pathogens are killed. Mold can appear and it smells a bit foul. Then the seeds are washed in a sieve under water and placed in coffee filters to dry or laid out on blotting paper. The seeds stick to kitchen paper, so it is less suitable.
The seeds are then stored in a dark and cool place. Film cans, metal-coated bags, paper bags in wooden or metal cans etc. are suitable.

Literature and further information:

Helga Buchter-Weisbrodt (2006): Tomatoes for the home garden - Österreichischer Agrarverlag, Vienna

Adelheid Coirazza (2010): Tomatoes. - 2nd revised edition, Formosa Verlag, Witten

Tomato atlas with more than 3000 varieties

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