With tomato-planting season upon us, you may be interested to know that Italian researchers have discovered that irrigating cherry tomatoes with seawater diluted to a concentration of 12 percent makes them both healthier and tastier—and, says NPR, may “encourage the use of slightly brackish water in tomato agriculture, extending precious supplies of fresh water.”
According to a piece on NPR’s Talk of the Nation, the higher salinity in seawater stresses the plants, causing the fruit to produce more antioxidants. In addition, the extra salt doesn’t make the tomato taste saltier, but instead ups both its sugar and organic acid content.
But don’t run right out to your garden and start pumping the Morton through your soaker hose. The researchers grew their tomatoes hydroponically, and stressed that, if you’re watering with seawater, all other factors must be controlled for success. In addition, pouring salt water all over the ground could really mess up your soil. (On the other hand, I imagine it would keep down the slug population.)
And speaking of growing your own tomatoes, you might want to make sure you get a few plants into the ground (or even a pot on a sunny ledge) this season: Growers in New Jersey and Pennslyvania are planting fewer tomatoes this year because immigration problems are leaving farmers worried about having a stable work force to harvest their crop.