We all know that home grown vegetables tend to have more taste than those bought from a supermarket and this is certainly true of tomatoes. While choosing the right variety is the first step this is only part of the answer. Heirloom varieties have more flavor than hybrids, but they should be native to the area in which you live. For full details on how to grow the tastiest tomatoes read this article by Margaret Roach which I found on her A Way To Garden website.
IS IT NATURE (as in genetics) or nurture (as in where and how you raise it) that makes for a tasty tomato? I asked a university breeder and geneticist, and a seed farmer and breeder—each with decades of expertise in Lycopersicon esculentum: How do you grow the best tomato?
I’m often asked that question, usually phrased like this: Why didn’t my (insert name of tomato variety) taste as good this year as last?
Getting the best flavor from a tomato is “a matter of lining the genetics up with the environment,” says Tom Stearns, founder of High Mowing Organic Seeds. It’s something he acknowledges that people are more inclined to do with animals than plants—to choose a breed of livestock suited to their region, for instance, but not to choose their tomato or other seeds that way.
But both are living creatures that have adapted over generations to their environments, so the same logic should be applied.
“Here’s how I think,” Stearns says: “The final flavor of a tomato is 60 percent genetics, and 40 percent environment.
“If you have a tomato that was bred and selected for the environment you’re growing it in, then you can get to the pinnacle of that variety’s taste: 100 percent is possible.”
For example, you have maximum potential if you grow a Northeast-bred and -selected variety in the Northeast—meaning it’s not just a variety said to be suited to your area, but that the actual contents of the seed packet you began with were raised in conditions like yours.
“But what if it’s a Florida-produced variety, and you grow it in the Northeast?” says Stearns. “Either the genetics (or the environment) won’t be fully in your favor.” No home run possible.
The same is true with tomato seed grown in conventional agriculture (using synthetic chemical inputs such as fertilizer) versus seed grown organically. Carefully matching up the seed you start with to the cultural conditions in your garden is another environmental or “nurture” factor in the equation.
See more at A Way To Garden