The ability to grow flavorful tomatoes at home is one of the utter joys of being a gardener. It seems that everyone who grows their own food has at least one tomato plant.
And every tomato gardener’s goal is to have a plethora of fresh ripe tomatoes for the summer. As tomato nerds, that’s what we do.
We grow flavorful tomatoes for our favorite garden-fresh recipes.
My favorite ways to eat delicious homegrown tomatoes are tomato sandwiches and Caprese salad. I love these recipes because they let the flavor of the tomato shine.
But tomato sandwiches are no good if the tomato is watery and bland! Great tomato flavor is also essential for making soups, sauces, and condiments.
The variability in tomato flavor is largely dependent on the variety of the tomato. Each variety will have different levels of dissolved sugars and acidity within their fruit.
The sugars, acidity, aroma, and texture of the tomato all play into its flavor.
And in every way, what constitutes the best tasting tomato is going to be a very personal opinion.
I happen to love the sweet cherry tomatoes like Sungold, Sweet 100, Chocolate Cherry, and Ildi. But I also love the classic tomato flavor of Cherokee Purple, Brandywine, Caspian Pink, and Mortgage Lifter.
The type of tomato that has the best flavor to you might be very different from my favorites. Certainly, there are tons of tomato varieties that I’ve never even tasted.
But just growing tomatoes at home does not guarantee that they’ll be delicious!
Some homegrown tomatoes can taste watery, bland, or just gross!
I’ve absolutely grown tomatoes that were not good at all. In fact, we call them spitters. Some tomatoes taste so bad you just want to spit them out!
So the first step to growing flavorful tomatoes is choosing a variety that tastes good to you and grows well in your area. If you’re not sure where to start, try one of these five tomatoes.
After choosing a variety that grows well in your area and satisfies your flavor preferences, follow these four tips to grow the most flavorful tomatoes and, as a bonus, get a huge harvest!
Tip 1: Make sure they get direct sunlight
Tomatoes are sun lovers! They need no less than 6 hours of direct sunlight per day to make fruit, but 8 hours of direct sunlight is even better for growing flavorful tomatoes.
By the process of photosynthesis, sunlight is converted to energy in the form of carbohydrates, or sugars, which improve the flavor of your tomatoes.
If you’ve had tomatoes that didn’t have much flavor before, then try moving them to a sunnier location. Make sure the sun they receive is not filtered by trees or patio coverings.
Tip 2: Plant your tomatoes in good soil and compost
The health of your plant and the fruit it grows is directly related to the health of your soil. Crappy soil grows crappy plants.
To entice your plants to grow flavorful tomatoes, spoil them rotten with the best quality soil and compost.
We like FoxFarm Ocean Forest potting soil when we can afford to really pamper our plants. It’s one of the best potting soils that we have used.
The next best thing to good soil and compost is fish emulsion fertilizer. This stuff is super nasty to you and me, but your tomatoes will LOVE it!
We like Neptune’s Harvest organic fertilizers, but other brands of liquid fish emulsion fertilizer will do. Our tomatoes grow like crazy when we feed them with this stuff!
Just make sure you rinse your tomato well before you eat it because this fertilizer is really made from dead fish, y’all. That’s not a flavor you want to eat.
Fertilizing with fish emulsion once every 2-4 weeks will ensure healthier plants and tomatoes. Watch your tomato’s leaves for clues about when to fertilize them.
Tip 3: Watch the way you water the tomatoes
The way you water your tomatoes will affect their flavor. In order to grow flavorful tomatoes, you need to make sure you’re watering on a regular schedule, at the base of the plant, and soaking the soil to provide water down to the deep roots.
Tomatoes don’t take up much water from their leaves, and wetting the leaves can lead to disease problems.
If you only water when they look dry then you’re setting yourself up for less tasty fruits. Over watering will also dilute the flavor of your tomatoes.
Tip 4: Pick the right time to harvest
One last tip for getting the best tasting tomatoes is to make sure you harvest your tomato at the right time. Green tomatoes don’t have great flavor for fresh eating.
Tomatoes are ready to be picked when the fruit has turned color and the bottom is slightly soft to touch. You don’t want it to be hard or squishy, but it should have a little give when you press it with your finger.
You can pick your tomatoes and let them ripen inside, but at least let them start to blush on the vine. Different varieties of tomatoes are better when slightly under or over ripe, so taste your tomato at all stages to learn what you like best.