Thursday, 2 June 2011

Plant of the Week; Roma Tomatoes

Roma tomatoes are an oblong shaped fruit, perfect for making sauces, which is why they are commonly referred to as Italian tomatoes (as Italians use this type of tomato for their classic sauces). The fruit contains less seeds and juice, and more of the flesh. It is open pollinated (pollinated by insects or birds), and averages at 4 feet high, with fruit averaging a weight of 4 ounces.  The maturation time is one average 76 days after transplant and they are a determinate plant, producing their fruit all at around the same time. For some, this is not the tomato plant for them because of their determinate state. If you want fresh tomatoes all season long, go with an indeterminate plant. Roma plants though are excellent producers, producing on average anywhere form 50-200 tomatoes per plant or 5 to 10 pounds per plant. Many of today's vines are verticillum and fusarium wilt resistant (both types of fungi), and are much hardier than other varieties of tomatoes, with the ability to survive early blight. To assist in preventing later blight, spraying the tomatoes with compost tea covers the plant in helpful microorganisms, leaving no room for blight to make home. Blossom end rot though, is a calcium deficiency of the soil, and there is no way to correct this, but you can prevent it by adding calcium into your soil and continuing to fertilize throughout the summer to ensure adequate calcium.
I chose this type of tomato for my garden because of its abundant flesh, perfect for canning. Last year I grew Juliet tomatoes, which are smaller, and canned them. Even with blossom rot and blight, I managed to can 19 (250ml) jars, and that was only about 25% of my possible yield. This year, I decided on Romas because of their great production of fruit, buying 12 of them. If all goes according to plan, I will have almost 120 pounds of tomatoes by the end of the season!

Happy Homesteading!

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