There’s nothing quite like a sun-warmed tomato fresh from the vine. A tomato that’s juicy and sweet with just the right amount of tang. It shimmers in your mouth, revealing an ethereal balance of acidity and sugar.
Tomatoes are a relatively easy garden plant to grow. However, to grow sweet, tasty tomatoes that are high on the craveablility scale, there are a few techniques gardeners can adopt to help them live up to all their sugary potential.
The sweetness of fruit is graded on the Brix scale, which measures the percentage of solids in juice extracted from fruit. Those solids include not just sugars, but amino acids, proteins, minerals, and vitamins. So fruit that is sweeter also has more complex flavors and a better nutrient profile.
The Brix rating results from the interplay of genetics, climatic conditions, soil conditions, and ripeness. Here are a few considerations for how to harness those forces in the name of producing the sweetest, tastiest tomatoes:
Start with the sweetest varieties
All else being equal, some tomatoes are naturally sweeter than others purely on the basis of genetic composition. Some seed purveyors list the average Brix rating, but for many common varieties that information is easily found through a quick internet search. In general, the smaller the fruit, the sweeter it will be. For example, poppable cherry tomatoes are sweeter than larger beefsteak tomatoes.
Sow seeds early
A long, hot growing season is required for optimal ripeness, and thus sweetness. Tomato plants love a head start on growth, so don’t be too late in starting them. This is particularly important for colder areas. The last spring frost date is used as a guideline for seed starting as well as planting them outdoors. Sow tomato seeds at least eight weeks prior to the last frost date, especially if you have a short growing season.
Find your warmest microclimate
Heat brings out a tomato’s sweetness, so make sure to plant them in a location that warms up early spring and stays hot through September. The south side of a fence or wall is ideal because the structure will absorb heat and light from the sun and reflect it back onto the tomatoes. Tomato plants like a solid eight hours of sun each day to produce the right amount of sugar and acids to develop plump, flavorful fruits.
Sweetness starts in the soil
Sugars are produced in the leaves during the process of photosynthesis and then pumped into the fruit. The lusher the leafy growth, the higher the Brix rating. To encourage strong growth, start at the foundation. The soil is the key to creating a tomato rich in nutrients as well as taste. If the soil is lacking in nutrients and stays soggy or too dry, then the tomato will lack a certain piquancy that makes it such a sought-after fruit for gardeners.
Water heavily—but not during ripening
When the plants are young, you may need to water daily. Don’t soak the ground, but moisten the soil and make sure the water is seeping into the ground around the roots without drowning them. Once the tomatoes have matured, water as necessary so that the soil is not dry, but not overwatered. Water sparingly as the fruit matures to avoid damaging the ripening tomatoes.
Nourish with H-G Sweet N’ Grow
Tomato plants are heavy feeders requiring a consistent supply of nutrients. H-G Sweet N’ Grow is a plant supplement designed to increase the yield, quality, and sweetness of your tomatoes as well as other fruits and vegetables. To nourish your plants with H-G Sweet N’ Grow, simply spray it on plant foliage and soil media every 7-14 days, making the first application four weeks after plant emergence or transplanting.
With care, patience, and H-G Sweet N’ Grow you will be well on your way to:
- Increased yield
- Improved fruit and vegetable quality
- Higher Brix level
- Healthier soil
- Enhanced nutrient availability
Check out or products to learn more about H-G Sweet N’ Grow or contact us today if you have any questions—we’d love to hear from you!