This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
It is very likely that many of your numerous readers will consider it very superfluous to be writing about so common a subject as the Tomato, - the more common and often more needed, - so, at the risk of being thought out of matter, I will venture to offer a few remarks on this generally accepted edible.
The Tomato was originally a native of South America, but it may now be considered as indigenous to all warm or temperate regions; for, like the Grape, it has been introduced to all countries where there has been any prospects of its' flourishing. Wherever the climate is sufficiently suitable to perfect the fruit, it seems to be universally a favorite; and yet there is perhaps no other vegetable which is dressed in the kitchen, that represents so nearly the normal condition. From a small, bitter tuber, as the Potato is in its aboriginal state, there has been obtained the good-flavored farinaceous product we often feed upon; by the same care and skill in improving the loose, open-leaved Kale - a mere weed in some places, has produced the burly, close-headed Cabbage and the tender Cauliflower; the nutricious and sugary Carrot has emanated from one of the farmer's most troublesome weeds; and Giant Asparagus, from a comparatively mere pigmy of its own character, found on the sea shore; while the Tomato, because nature was more lavish in her bounty, has been almost left to itself to improve by accident It is true that there are a few varieties of good merit, but there is much room for improvement.
Why should a hollow Tomato be recognised as worth culture, so long as the same care which has been bestowed on other things would accomplish solidity? - and why tolerate those of unequal surface, when they may be shaped like the Pippin Apples? The flavor likewise, notwithstanding the present acknowledged excellence, may become considerably better.
How to bring about this improvement, is a question that is easily answered. Let every one who has a Tomato plot, - and who that has a garden has not, - notice the plants when in full bearing - and one or more will show more excellence than the others - pick from the very best, the most desirable fruit, and save them for seed. Repeat this each season, always having an eye to form, color, productiveness, flavor, and size; and if no improvement takes place, then consider the writer an ignoramus. I have followed the above plan for several years, and the result is quite satisfactory; and so it will be to others if adopted. Let this be more generally done by private growers; let them raise their standard of excellence, and the awarders of prizes at the public exhibitions follow suit, and the large growers for market will soon be forced to take a better sample to the city, instead of the thick skinned, hollow subjects, which are too often seen on the huckster's stall, and which "bounce" like a foot-ball. We shall then have weight and quality, in return for good money.
There is no vegetable that requires less care than the Tomato, where a general crop only is wanted; but to have it fresh all the year round, which is no difficult matter, there will have to be succession stocks of young plants, and the convenience of a hothouse, or glazed pit for winter fruiting. To show how this perpetuity of bearing is to be accomplished, will be the object of the following paragraphs.