How to Grow Tomatoes You Won’t Want to Throw Across the Room

Prompt: Live to Eat
Some people eat to live, while others live to eat. What about you? How far would you travel for the best meal of your life?

bloody mary

I was about to write that I am baffled by people who say they only eat to live. We in the West take our plentiful food supply for granted, and except for writing occasional cheques, most of us keep the knowledge of hungry or starving people tidily compartmentalized and out of mind. Let us always be both thankful for what we have, and do as much as we can to raise awareness and to support efforts to end hunger globally.

Since we have the resources to eat well, I think it’s imperative that we enjoy and appreciate what we consume. Think of the truly fine taste experiences you’ve had. Were they in a fine restaurant? A small town diner? At your grandmother’s table? From a street vendor?

A very small trattoria in a town in Italy that I’ve forgotten, served up pastas and salads with ingredients if not grown in their back garden, were sourced in the town market or nearby farms.

We shared an Insalata Caprese, which is simply a tomato and mozzarella salad, with fresh basil, drizzled with olive oil. Except that it isn’t really simple, because you need the freshest local ingredients, as this trattoria served: local vine-ripened tomatoes, soil-grown fresh basil, soft, fresh mozzarella, and a fruity extra-virgin olive oil.

It was one of the best plates of food I’ve ever eaten.

Every once in a while I’ll slice up a tomato for a salad, taste it, and want to throw it across the room. Because supermarket tomatoes have no damn flavour. I’ve been growing tomatoes in the summer, with spotty success, and recently did some research to see how I could grow delicious, juicy, sweet, flavourful tomatoes, before I completely forget what they actually taste like.

I’m sharing the fruits of my labour here. I’m going to work at it this summer. How about you?

How to Grow Tomatoes with Flavour

  • Plant in rich, preferably composted, and lightly acidic soil.
  • Don’t overwater.
  • Tomatoes with lots of bushy foliage tend to have better flavour. Heirloom tomatoes typically have a high foliage to fruit ration, for example.
  • Choose a variety that thrives in your area.
  • Look for disease resistant varieties.
  • Give your tomatoes lots of heat and sunshine.
  • Use a trellis or cage to allow more exposure of the leaves to the sun, and minimize the leaves touching the soil.
  • Fertilize steadily during the season, with a slow release fertilizer or a foliage spray.

My mother use to make tomato juice with all her leftover tomato crop at the end of the season, and can it. A bloody Mary in the middle of winter with fresh tomato juice is heaven. Just thought I would throw that in.

Hurry up, spring!