When you grow tomatoes, you’re always looking for ways to make them a little sweeter. We all know that taking good care of our tomatoes while they’re growing is important, and this includes fertilizing them regularly and making sure they get enough water.
Baking soda is a great way to help your tomatoes to become even sweeter. Adding baking soda to the soil in small amounts can help to increase the soil pH, decrease acidity and help the tomatoes to develop sweeter.
There are lots of ways to grow sweeter tomatoes at home, including adding baking soda. This article will explore the top, simple ways to grow sweeter tomatoes and how to use baking soda for your soil.
Baking soda makes tomatoes sweeter
When you add just a touch of baking soda to the soil of your tomato plants, it lowers the acidity level and will help you to grow sweeter tomatoes. When adding baking soda to your tomato plants, add it to your soil but avoid getting it on the stems and leaves.
Water it in straight away to get it into the soil quicker. This will also give you a chance wash of any baking soda spilled on the leaves. Baking soda only needs to be added once at the start of the spring planting season.
You can sprinkle baking soda over the soil before you plant your seedlings and dig it in well. You can also sprinkle it around established plants if they are already in the ground. If you have highly acidic soils, baking soda is a great way to gently reduce the acidity levels.
You will only need go sprinkle equivalent of 2-3 teaspoons around each plant. It is better to add small amounts at a time to slowly increase the pH.
How to grow sweet tomatoes
Growing sweet tomatoes is a balance of getting the soil, weather and variety right. Weather conditions like temperature, amount of rain, the amount of sunlight, acidity levels of the soil and organic matter content.
Here are the top ways to grow sweeter tomatoes at home.
1. Choose a sweet cultivar
One of the most important things you can do is decide on the right cultivar because some varieties are known to be sweeter than others. Large tomatoes, such as beefsteak tomatoes, are usually less sweet than smaller tomatoes, such as cherry and grape tomatoes.
Other sweet varieties include Sweet Million and Sun Sugar.
These tomatoes have a higher surface area where the sun can reach the skin and develop the natural sugars. Some cultivars are so sweet that they (almost) taste like candy, so choose small if you want sweet tomatoes!
2. Allow tomatoes to ripen on the vine
Allowing the tomato fruit to mature in the sun on the vine is the best way to get sweet tomatoes. The sunlight helps the plant to develop natural sugars beneath the skin which taste delicious. Allow the tomatoes to ripen to a deep red color to get the sweetest fruit.
3. Plant tomatoes in full sun
Tomatoes grown in a position that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight or even 8 or more hours will develop sweeter fruit. Tomatoes grown in Italy like Romas, are grown in open fields and get sunlight as soon as it rises until dusk.
These sweet saucing tomatoes develop a rich, sweet flavor perfect for making tomato sauces and they taste delicious.
4. Consistent water
Water tomato plants consistently while the fruit develops. This allows the fruit to grow consistently, will prevent splitting and will allow it to stay on the vine until it fully ripens. This will give you sweet fruit that will grow larger.
5. Build the tomatoes up with organic matter
Before planting tomato seedlings it is always a great idea to add organic matter to the soil. Aged compost and cow manure are great because they add small amounts of nutrients, lighten the soil and encourage the root system to grow strong.
A plant that is absorbing the water and nutrients it needs will develop sweet, juicy fruit and will capture the nutrients ready for you to eat.
What makes tomatoes sweet
Everyone wants sweet tomatoes and adding a sprinkle of baking soda to the soil before planting will help to achieve this.
There is a lot of research being conducted by scientists to learn more about what makes tomatoes sweet. According to this research, the sweetness of a tomato depends on its blend of acids, sugars, and some chemicals.
The chemicals are called “aroma volatiles,” and there are currently about 3000 of them found in more than 150 varieties of heirloom tomatoes. Scientists also consider heterosis, which is when two types of plants are cross-bred in order to get higher yields than the two parent plants.
A gene called SFT produces a protein called florigen and essentially forces the plant to produce bigger yields of fruits. Some people think that since tomato plants are only able to produce a certain amount of sugar, that a boost in fruit production will result in tarter, not sweeter tomatoes, but that’s not how it works. In fact, thanks to this florigen, the sugar content is boosted which in turn, makes the tomato sweeter.
Tips to get sweeter tomatoes
All of this being said, there are still other things you can do to increase the likelihood that your tomatoes will turn out super-sweet. These include:
- Make sure that there is a lot of organic matter that has a lot of sulfur and potassium in it and allows the flavors of the tomatoes to fully develop.
- Select varieties that have more foliage, such as potato leaf and heirloom tomatoes, and those that tend to have much deeper flavors.
- Make sure that your tomatoes get enough light. More sunlight equals more active photosynthesis, which means higher amounts of the carbs that translate into more sugar and acid. Try to place your tomatoes in an area where they can receive a minimum of 6-8 hours of sunlight each day.
- Avoid overwatering your tomatoes. While you want to keep your tomatoes well watered, let them get dry in between watering. It’s better to water them thoroughly two or three days per week than to water them every day of the week.
- Choose tomatoes that are orange, yellow, or even pink. Red tomatoes tend to have more acid than sugar and are usually less sweet than these other colors.
These tips are very simple to follow, but they make a big difference when it comes to how sweet your tomatoes are after they’re grown. In addition to adding a little baking soda, doing these things can help you get lip-smacking tomatoes every time.
Sweet tomatoes are an amazing food are worth the effort of growing your own. Sprinkling baking soda in the soil is a good idea, but it also helps if you choose sweeter varieties of tomatoes and grow them in full sun. These things are not difficult to do, but they can definitely increase sweetness of your homegrown tomatoes.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.