Tomato Aegean Way

Finding the right tomato isn’t as easy as it looks, or growing your own is easily as difficult. At one time, I was growing 45+ varieties of tomatoes in my greenhouse but finally gave up after discovering the difficulty in growing fruits under windy and very hot conditions.

In California where it never gets too hot, growers water tomatoes for the first week or two after transplanting, then never water again. In hotter areas, growers might water only until the plants flower, and then either cut off water entirely or provide much less than normal. The flavor of dry-farmed tomatoes is very good but certainly not perfect.

Israeli and Italian growers discovered that by using brackish water to irrigate tomatoes tasted better. Chemical analysis showed that percentage of dry weight, total soluble solids, sugars, and acidity was in the rght proportions vis-à-vis taste. These factors all contribute to better tasting tomato flavor and umami.

Papers: http://www.njfarmfresh.rutgers.edu/documents/TomatoSalt2009.pdf

Papers: http://njaes.rutgers.edu/pubs/plantandpestadvisory/2010/vc031710.pdf

The most frequently heard advice about rotating crops is that you should never grow Solanaceae family crops (tomatoes) in the same place two years in a row because of the threat of soil borne diseases overwintering in soil and affecting future crops. In fact, most authorities recommend four years between solanaceous crops.

The challenge of growing tomatoes is finding the right environment and feeding them accordingly. The secret may be brackish water, a trick that can actually sweetens the fruits but it takes plenty of passion to get a fruit that is outstanding.

If you visit Mykonos you can visit the port and try the local tomatoes, or even pass by Nicolas Taverna in Paranga and enjoy their homegrown vegetables when in season. But if you want the very best seasonal tomatoes, you’ll need to buy a ticket and go to ToThalassaki in Tinos.

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