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sassyjvg
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What's Your Formula For Flavor?

Hi, I finally got a chance to experience some of my garden's fares, one which included one of my first ripe, homegrown tomatoes(possibly beefsteak). I was all set to put a bann on grocery store produce, when I discovered that the tomatoe's flavor was sort of, bland. It was no reproduction of the grocery's store product either, but by no means was it the flavor-filled oasis which most experienced gardeners tend to experience. This prompted my question- are there techniques or specific ammendments or otherwise that help improve the flavors of garden produce? I heard, for example, (a possible myth) that if you put sugar in the soil at the time of planting watermelon seeds, supposedly it makes them sweeter.
Last edited by sassyjvg on Thu Jul 08, 2010 3:27 am, edited 2 times in total.
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jal_ut
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I believe the good flavor of tomatoes comes from being left on the vine until it is ripe. Store tomatoes are picked green. Variety may have something to do with it too.

Add sugar to the watermelon patch? I believe you would do better to add the sugar when its on your plate.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

731greener101
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I use greensand and kelp in my garden and when I began this practice I noticed an increase in flavor.The first year was a little much but successive years were more mellow.If I had it to do over again I would reduce the recommended amount by 30-50% and apply smaller doses thereafter.Greener

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engineeredgarden
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I would say watering is the biggest factor involved with the taste of a homegrown tomato.

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TZ -OH6
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Variety has the most effect on flavor, after that climate and nutrition have an effect. If the fruit has grown during rainy overcast weather don't expect much.

First fruits of the season are usually disappointing for me (maybe has to do with how the plant is growing) as are last fruits (cold weather). Flavor has been linked with adequate potassium levels, a soil test will tell you if that is out of bounds.

High nitrogen and to much water will also take some of the flavor out of fruit, which may be why my first fruits of the season are bland.

But I would say that no, you cannot buy something in a bag that will automatically make the fruit taste better.

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farmerlon
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TZ -OH6 wrote:...But I would say that no, you cannot buy something in a bag that will automatically make the fruit taste better.
And I would be so bold as to say that, in my opinion, most stuff in a bag, bottle, or can, is only going to make your produce taste worse. I think that the best tasting produce is grown without the use of pesticides or chemical fertilizers.
I know that approach is not for everyone, but that's what works for me.

MaryDel
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[quote="TZ -OH6"]
First fruits of the season are usually disappointing for me
quote]

I'll second that. I've had two of my plants so far, and both were bland with a poor texture.

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lakngulf
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I am a firm believer that the soil makes the difference. The best tasting tomatoes will come from good composted soil, whether the do-it-yourself version, or from the pasture where I get it.
Nutin as good as a kitchen sink mater sammich

731greener101
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Maybe a comparison of tomatoes in nutrient rich soil vs.nutrient poor soil.Say I am crazy but I can smell a triple fifteen and lime tomato as well as taste it.When it comes to texture I can usually pick out the mealy one grown in potassium defecient soil.So...I agree presenting the most varied nutrient source without over doing any particular one.Greener

MaryDel
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My tomatoes always taste great, except the first few off of each plant. I ate two black krims that were just so so. I just ate a cherokee purple and a lemon boy and both were marginally good. I have four black angus steers who do a wonderful job of fertilizing my garden, and I always supplement with a small amount of 10-10-10, and 5-10-10, so I am not lacking in any nutrients.

Within a few weeks when they are coming on strong the taste will change. I think it has something to do with the first tomatoes on the plant taking a longer time to ripen than subsequent ones. The best tasting tomatoes are always harvested in august for some reason. They taste the best off of the vine, and years of saucemaking has confirmed that august sauces are indeed better tasting. My whole family confirms this, and they are the experts :wink:

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Gary350
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One thing that causes poor flavor is too much water. It would be like pouring yourself a cup of coffee then pouring a glass of water in there too coffee would be so watered down it would have very pour flavor. I only water my tomatoes and pepper plants for about 2 weeks to get them astablished if mother nature is not doing the job for me. After that I never water my garden the dryer it is the more concentracted the flavor. If your getting a lot of rain or your water too much then you get large fruit with a watered down flavor. If you give me a choice, small fruit with good flavor or large fruit with poor flavor I till pick the small fruit every time. If you have early tomatoes during a time when your also getting a lot of rain then your tomatoes will be low in flavor. Later in the summer when it is hot and dry and your not getting much rain the flavor will be much better.

I plants Beef Steak, Big Beef, Beef Master anything with the word Beef all seem to have the same flavor. These are my favorite. For each his own. You need to experement with several different varieties of tomatoes to find the flavor you like.

GardenJester
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I hear fruits produced by plants grown in poor or difficult conditions tend to be more flavorful. The plants will produce smaller, fewer but tastier fruits. I can't confirm it with first hand experience, but Jal might be able to...

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Halfway
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I tend to get out the watering can everytime I see the least bit of wilt.

Gary, do you let your plants wilt in abstaining from watering? If so, for how long?
Zone 4a.

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Gary350
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Halfway wrote:I tend to get out the watering can everytime I see the least bit of wilt.

Gary, do you let your plants wilt in abstaining from watering? If so, for how long?
Plants will naturally wilt in the hot sun then perk up over night. Next morning plants look fine until it gets hot again. I think wilt is the plants natural way of reducing the surface area of the leaves so it can expose itself to less heat from the sun.

If you look at the plants very carefully you can tell the difference between lack of water wilt and the plant wilting its leaves to reduce heat. Low water wilt usually makes the leaves hang down like a rag and they are all floppy if you move them with your finger. If you get no rain for several weeks and your having 90+ deg F temperatures every day then you may be forced to water. Once the leaves dry out and turn brown it is usually too late to water.

It does your plants good not to water them because that forces the roots to grow deeper in search of water. Then when the weather is extremely hot and dry the plants are better prepaired.

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sassyjvg
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Wow, what a plethora of experience from which I can enrich and cultivate my gardening style! Gary, I am particularly interested in your approach. I tend to water religiously for fear of bolting, especially with my broccoli that's been holding on throughout our intense heat. GardenJester, the idea of marginal soil producing more flavorful yields sounds possible which indirectly mirrors Gary's experience focusing on smaller more intensely developed fruit using far less water. I don't know many gardeners willing to compromise volume over flavor given the expectations of an abundant return is most anyone's goal, but I'd be willing to experiment, afterall, I'm still in the apprentice stage!
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farmerlon
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Gary350 wrote:
Halfway wrote:...
It does your plants good not to water them because that forces the roots to grow deeper in search of water. Then when the weather is extremely hot and dry the plants are better prepaired.
Yes, I have to agree with that.
We've had a long stretch of temps in the upper 90s, and it's been dry too. Even when it's hot and dry, I usually go about 4 days between waterings, and my plants are doing great!

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