It's often said that home-grown vegetables taste better than those bought in a store. This may or may not be true, but there are ways to ensure that your vegetables have the biggest and best taste possible. Growing flavorful vegetables is not simply a matter of sticking some seedlings in the ground and hoping to harvest great food. Everything that you do in a garden influences the vegetables' taste, beginning with your seed selection. Spend the season concentrating on flavor over production numbers and you may amaze yourself with just how good your garden tastes.
Search in your area for a source of locally grown heirloom seeds. Heirloom plants are ones that have never been hybridized, and are time-honored favorites. Locally-grown seeds are the best suited to your microclimate, so they will do the best in your garden. If you can't find locally grown seed, check catalogs for other heirloom varieties. Heirlooms have been saved for flavor, not because they ship well or look pretty on a shelf, so your flavor results should be much better with these seeds.
Prepare your soil into the finest bed that you can. Double dig the ground to create the smoothest soil without rocks or roots. Add at least 4 inches of compost to add organic matter that will break down into nutrients that your plants can use throughout the season. Raise your garden beds at least 4 inches above the soil surface to help with drainage. Walk in the pathways between raised beds rather than walking directly on the planting surfaces. This will prevent your weight from compressing the soil, and keep it soft for the roots to grow in more easily.
Use plastic mulch around plants as soon as seedlings are transplanted or have sprouted above the ground. Black plastic mulch will raise the soil temperature around the roots, helping early plants to get a good start in growing. Plastic also cuts down on the number of weeds that will sprout. This allows more of the nutrients in the soil to go to your plants, helping them to develop the best flavor.
Feed your plants with a balanced fertilizer like a 10-10-10 mixture. While compost should provide your garden with the nutrients it needs, many plants can use an extra bit of help, especially after the fruits have set and are growing. Check your particular seed packets to see if any plant might need an additional nutrient to help it along, like peppers liking the soil on the acid side, and add individual ingredients accordingly.