Roma VF Tomato
An excellent paste-type open pollinated tomato. Popular for canning or for making your own tomato sauce, juice, soups or for dehydrating. Plants bear dozens of plum shaped, 6oz fruit which have meaty interiors and very few seeds. Determinate growing habit does not require staking. Maturity is about 75 days from transplanting. Approx. 50 seeds/pkg.
Determinate plants are shorter and do not require staking, although they do benefit from some support or cages. They have a much more concentrated harvest. These are ideal for commercial growers or for home gardeners who want a lot of tomatoes at one time for preserving.
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Tomatoes are tender plants and are very susceptible to frost damage. Start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost date in your area. Sow 2 - 3 seeds in 1x1 inch cells and thin to 1 plant after germination. Cover seed with 1⁄4 inches soil and provide a constant soil temperature of 21-26°C.
After plants develop 1-2 sets of true leaves, transplant into 3 or 4” pots. Use a water-soluble fertilizer every two weeks starting at half strength and increasing to full strength over 6 weeks. Seedlings benefit from waterings with Epsom salts, use 1 Tbsp of Epsom salts per gallon.
Provide lots of sunlight or artificial light. Without grow lights or sufficient light, seedlings will become tall and spindly. If you use a windowsill for your light source, be aware that it may get very hot on sunny days and very cold at night. Plants may dry out or get frost or heat damage. Turn containers frequently to allow plants to grow evenly. Protect plants from extreme temperature swings. Room temperature is fine.
Water when potting mix is dry to the touch. Feed regularly with any balanced water-soluble fertilizer. It is better to feed with a weak solution every time you water (constant feed), than with a strong solution every 2 weeks. You may also use a slow-release fertilizer especially for containers, such as SmartCote Hanging Basket Food. Organic alternatives would be Jolly Farmer Earthworm Castings. Removing 1 - 2 sets of leaves from each stem or “pinching” may help some varieties stay bushy and produce more flowers.
Gradually adjust your plants to outside conditions over a period of a week or two. First place them outside on a warm, calm day in the shade for a few hours. Work up to more sun, wind, and cooler temperatures and finally leave out overnight. Transplant outdoors after all danger of frost has passed. When transplanting, space 24-36” apart with rows at least 36-48” apart.
Full sun location, preferably with good air circulation. Soil pH of 6.0-6.5. Heavy feeders, prefer a warm, well-drained soil of good fertility and cultivation. Add plenty of compost and well-rotted manure prior to planting. Feed regularly during the growing season with a compost tea or well-balanced fertilizer. Avoid excessive nitrogen, particularly before fruit set. Provide even moisture during fruit set and development. Excessive watering can increase fruit size but decrease flavour.
Determinate Tomatoes are tomato plants with a set amount of growth and yield and do not require pruning. Determinate tomatoes typically do not require staking and produce all fruit at the same time.
Indeterminate Tomatoes will continue to grow and produce fruit until the first hard frost. Pruning removes unwanted growth and redistributes energy that would have been used for the unwanted growth in other areas of the plant like fruit production. Leaving indeterminate tomatoes unpruned is not detrimental to the plant’s health and growth. In fact, many gardeners do not prune their tomatoes and still get plentiful yields. By pruning, you are taking the next step in producing bigger and more flavorful tomatoes.
What is a Tomato Sucker?
Tomato suckers, or side shoots, are small shoots that grow points of growth like between a branch and main stem, or roots of the plant (also called the axil). If left unattended, they will eventually grow into branches that produce leaves, flowers, and fruit, resulting in stollen energy from the plant.
How to Prune Tomatoes
- Once your tomato starts producing its first flower cluster, you are ready to start pruning.
- The sucker located just below the first flower cluster will stay. This will become another stem that will produce leaves and fruit. All other suckers below this sucker can be removed. You can remove suckers by pinching between your thumb nail and index finger or use precession pruners.
- Disinfecting your fingers or pruners between plants will also help reduce the spread of disease and bacteria. Hand sanitizer for your hands or 70% isopropyl alcohol for pruners work well.
- Once you see fruit starting to form, leave some suckers to protect the fruit from Sunscald (a sunburn on tomato fruit).
- Once fruit has ripened or has been picked, you can continue the pruning sucker process. Continue this process throughout the growing season.
Pick fruit when fruit is firm and turning red. Overripe tomatoes rot quickly.
Pests & Diseases:
Protect from cutworms by using protective collars around the plant stem or place cornmeal around plant base. Blossom end rot (a brownish-black, sunken dead area that forms on the bottom of the fruit) is a condition caused by a calcium deficiency due to uneven watering. Blight, another disease common to tomatoes is caused by warm, humid conditions particularly if plants have not been given some support to keep foliage off the ground. Use copper or sulfur sprays to help prevent blight. Good air circulation along with proper rotation will help to prevent onset of this harmful disease.
Companions: Asparagus, basil, bush bean, cabbage, carrot, celery, chive, cucumber, lettuce, onion, pepper.