How To Grow Tomatoes With The Best Flavor

I truly relish my backyard garden every summer. In preparation, I’ve been studying up on how to grow tomatoes with the best flavor. Along the way, I had recently run across an article that shed some light on why you just can’t seem to get a good store-bought tomato that tastes like anything. Here Jon Bardin writes for The Los Angeles Times and describes a recent study published in the journal Science that actually got to the bottom of the flavor question on a genetic level of understanding.

How To Grow Tomatoes With The Best Flavor

The mass-produced tomatoes we buy at the grocery store tend to taste more like cardboard than fruit. Now researchers have discovered one reason why: a genetic mutation, common in store-bought tomatoes, that reduces the amount of sugar and other tasty compounds in the fruit.

For the last 70-odd years, tomato breeders have been selecting for fruits that are uniform in color. Consumers prefer those tomatoes over ones with splotches, and the uniformity makes it easier for producers to know when it’s time to harvest.

grow tomatoes

Grow tomatoes with the best flavor using heirloom varieties.

But the new study, published this week in Science, found that the mutation that leads to the uniform appearance of most store-bought tomatoes has an unintended consequence: It disrupts the production of a protein responsible for the fruit’s production of sugar.

Mass-produced tomato varieties carrying this genetic change are light green all over before they ripen. Tomatoes without the mutation — including heirloom and most small-farm tomatoes — have dark-green tops before they ripen. There is also a significant difference in flavor between the two types of tomatoes, but researchers had not previously known the two traits had the same root cause.

Please read the entire article here at latimes.com:

When scientists modified the basic tomato varieties years ago, they weren’t thinking about how to grow tomatoes with the best flavor, instead they were selecting them for the best visual appeal and with the ability to be shipped long distances and not be damaged,thereby minimizing economic loss from physical damage. That, my friends, does not make for a flavorful tomato experience, let me tell you. When a tomato can bounce off the road like a softball, I wouldn’t want to eat it on my BLT. So for me, until they tinker with it enough to get the taste back, I’ll just be growing my own every summer. That warm savory sweetness can’t be shipped thousands of miles, it’s got to be had locally.

If you found this article enlightening, useful, or just interesting, why not leave a comment and let me know what else you’d like to hear about.

The most noteworthy thing about gardeners is that they are always optimistic, always enterprising, and never satisfied. They always look forward to doing something better than they have ever done.      — Vita Sackville-West (1892-1962), English aristocrat, author, and gardener

Grow Tomatoes At Home

Grow Tomatoes at Home

I’ve decided this year to grow tomatoes differently than we usually do. When we first started our backyard vegetable garden about ten years ago, it was in a nice sunny location and I built it as a 6-inch raised bed vegetable garden to help with drainage and to improve the soil quality, especially considering we wanted to grow tomatoes. We grew two or three tomato plants and got a nice crop every year in late summer mostly. During the last few years our tomato crop really started to go downhill. My wife and I figured it was partly due to the fact that the trees around the garden grew and decreased the amount of sun they received. I pruned them down some, but it wasn’t really enough by itself.

Grow Tomatoes In A Sunny Location

This spring, I decided to get aggressive. First, we really amended the soil with our own compost, and added some lime to the soil where we would grow tomato plants. I also included some mixed-in tomato food there as well. But the other part of my plan included planting (from seed) four different tomato varieties. Also, this year I chose to grow tomatoes in a special raised bed container type of planter that I recently purchased in

grow tomatoes

You can easily grow tomatoes in a raised bed garden at home.

March. This one would be located in a different part of the yard that always got sun most of the day. In addition, this planter has water reservoirs underneath that attach to filler tubes that let you monitor the water level. You can actually go away for over a week and they will keep your plants watered while you are gone.

You Can Easily Grow Tomatoes From Seed

I was able to grow the four seed types indoors over about a month, although they did get a little “leggy”. I simply took the best seedling from each type and planted it into the soil up to the seed leaves. This actually gave each seedling a really good head start on a good root system. That was about a month ago. Today, each plant is between 24″ to 36″ in height. I’ve done some foliar feedings, which my father swears by, but mostly my plants have been doing well on the original soil mix that I established for them when they were planted. While the tomato plants in the main garden bed were started at the same time from purchased plants, so they’re about a foot taller because they had a head start, I think that this gap is closing rapidly. I’ll include some pictures that show how I grow tomatoes and I’ll include some additional details of the setup in my next post. For now, have a look at this video for some more tips on how to grow tomatoes in your backyard veggie garden.