roma tomatoes

Growing Roma Tomatoes In Vegetable Gardens

Last Updated on June 29, 2022 by Real Men Sow

Roma tomatoes are one the most well-known varieties of tomato. You’ve likely seen them in canned tomato products or in Italian recipes. These tomatoes aren’t too different from regular tomatoes in terms of care but there are some things you need to keep in mind when growing Roma tomatoes.

What Is A Roma Tomatoes? 

Roma tomatoes are a particular type of tomato used for making tomato paste. They are more water-soluble than other varieties, have thicker fruit walls, have dense flesh, and have fewer seeds. These characteristics make them ideal for making concentrated tomato pastes or sauces. They are used in cooking, canning and freezing.

Roma Tomatoes Cultivars

Roma tomatoes are known as determinate. This means that they have a set size at which it will grow before producing its fruit and they all ripen in the same harvest. The Roma tomato group is also known as Italian plum tomatoes and there are many cultivars available. These are some of the most popular varieties:

San Marzano

This is a very popular heirloom Roma tomato variety. San Marzano fruits are rich in red and look like plums. They are very heavy, weighing in at approximately 5-6 ounces. Their flesh is also dense and meaty. Then, they can withstand cracks and mature in approximately 80 days.

Heinz

An heirloom variety that yields large tomatoes. It is believed to be the original tomato used in the creation of ketchup. This variety is still popular for salsas and sauce making. They can mature between 75 and 80 days after being planted.

Viva Italia

This heat-loving variety bears longer fruits after 72 days of planting. They produce high yielding fruits with a sweet taste that is delicious both raw and cooked. This variety also weighs between 3-4 ounces.

La Roma

A variety of early-producing tomato that produces tomatoes weigh between 3 and 4 ounces. These plants can be grown in containers as they are compact. They are resistant to Fusarium wilt and Verticillium wilt.

Cream Sausage

These fruits grow to approximately 3 inches in length when fully matured. They have a slightly pointed tip and a creamy yellow color. They are suitable for containers because they do not require to be staked or tied.

Sunrise Sauce

A hybrid tomato that produces early orange fruits. Highly resistant to both Fusarium and Verticillium Wilt. They weigh between 4 and 6 ounces. Fruits are well-known for their rich flavor, which develops when they are cooked down. Fruits mature in between 50 and 60 days.

Growing Guide For Roma Tomatoes 

Roma tomatoes grow in the same way as other varieties of tomatoes, but there are specific care instructions that must be followed. Determinate tomatoes are not like indeterminate tomatoes. They can be trimmed throughout the year, but they don’t need to be pruned as often.

Planting Preparations For Roma Tomatoes

Planting Your Tomato Seeds

Roma tomatoes can be grown from seeds if you start them indoors at least 6 to 2 months before the last frost. You don’t need to be concerned if you plan on buying tomato seedlings at a nursery or plant store in spring.

Selecting The Best Location For Your Tomatoes

Roma tomato plants need 6-8 hours of sun each day to thrive, just like other tomatoes. You can grow tomatoes in pots or in the ground. However, you need to ensure that they get plenty of sunlight. They grow best in loamy soil that has good drainage and lots of organic matter.

Letting Your Seedlings Harden off 

You should let your seedlings spend more time outdoors for about seven to ten days prior to transplanting. This is called “hardening off”. Instead of exposing the seedlings’ to cold temperatures, let them spend some time outside to adjust to changing winds and other climate conditions. Gradually increase their time outside each day until transplanting.

Preparation of Tomato Cages (If Needed By Your Variety)

While most Roma tomatoes are not determinate, some tomatoes that can be grown in determinate need support. Tomato cages provide the necessary support and framework to allow for growth. Place a tomato cage on the place you plan to plant your tomatoes before you start transplanting them. To prevent the cage from bouncing around, push the legs into the soil.

Transplant Your Roma Tomatoes

Waiting for Sufficiently Warm Temperatures

You can transplant Roma tomatoes outside once nighttime temperatures rise above 50 degrees. Frost tolerance is not an option for all varieties, so ensure that you have cleared any risk of freezing temperatures.

Digging Holes For Your Seedlings

Each seedling should have a hole approximately 5 inches in depth. However, this can be adjusted depending on how tall they are. To give tomatoes enough space to grow, the holes should be placed approximately 15-20 inches apart. This is not an issue if you grow tomatoes in pots. It’s best to give your newly planted seedlings an extra boost, so add a few pieces of compost or any other amendment to the bottom of each hole.

Bury & Water Roma Tomato Seedlings

So that the stem of your seedlings is completely buried, and only the first leaves remain above the soil, place them in the soil. If necessary, dig a deeper hole. It is possible that your Roma tomato plant has many fine hairs, and these can all become roots if they’re buried. Therefore, you must ensure that soil to root contact is maintained. Fill the hole with soil securely, but not compacted. 

Avoid creating mounds

Avoid creating mounds at the base of your tomato plants because this will result in uneven irrigation. After planting, give the seedlings plenty of water. After being transplanted they will experience some shock, so it is important to keep them hydrated.

Mid-Season Care And Maintenance For Roma Tomatoes

Soaking Your Roma Tomatoes 2 – 3 Times A Week

Tomatoes require a consistent watering schedule that includes a deep drink once a week. You may need to water your Roma tomatoes less frequently if you live somewhere warmer.

Feed Once A Month Through The Growing Season

Roma tomatoes are heavy feeders, and need plenty of nutrients to survive the season. Many people fertilize their plants weekly, which can cause overfertilization. A fertilizer with a balanced amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium is recommended. This will ensure that your plant has all it needs to produce fruit and foliage.

Mulching Or Weeding Around Your Plants

Mulch around your plants for a few weeks after they have been transplanted. Mulches help retain moisture, suppress weed growth, and prevent disease spread. Popular biodegradable mulches are straw, wood chips, dried leaves and cardboard. You can apply mulch to your tomatoes, but you must weed around them regularly to keep them from becoming invasive. You can either hand-weed or use a shovel to get rid of them.

Treat Pest And Disease Issues As They Arise

You should be on the lookout for fungal spores and spotting on leaves, eggs or larvae. Your plant’s survival chances are greater if you identify and treat the problem early. The common problem with Roma tomatoes is yellowing leaves. It can be caused by too much or too little water, viruses, fungal disease, nutritional deficiencies in the soil or old leaves dying back. You will be able to identify the root causes of problems if you give your plants more attention.

How To Harvest Roma Tomatoes

Check For Ripeness

All the tomatoes on your plant will need to be harvested within a few weeks. This can lead to a lot of tomatoes being picked at once. Roma tomatoes can range from yellow to red. Their color should be uniform and deep throughout the fruit. They should have a shiny skin, but when they are ripe, they will feel firmer and more tender than other varieties of tomatoes.

Check The Weather Forecast

You should check the weather before you start to harvest your Roma tomatoes. Roma tomatoes will not thrive in temperatures above 90°F and they will also be damaged if it drops below 60°F. If you are concerned about either of these, it is best to harvest the tomatoes early and allow them to ripen indoors.

Twist And Tug Tomatoes Off The Vine

With a light tug and twist, you can easily pull the tomatoes from the bush. Roma tomatoes can be difficult to remove because they are more dense than grape or cherry tomatoes. To collect tomatoes, make sure you use a suitable container such as a tray or crate. Putting tomatoes on top of one another can cause them to crush each other, which could lead to a premature paste.

Top Plants At The End Of The Season

Even though determinate tomatoes do not need to be pruned all season, they can still benefit from the end-of-season topping. You should trim the tips of your plants if you have any unripe tomatoes left on the bush one month prior to the first forecast frost.

To remove the excess foliage and growing tips around the fruits, use disinfected pruning shears. This allows the plant to focus all its energy on ripening existing tomatoes. It also opens up space for the sun and heats them up, speeding up the process.

Roma Tomatoes Growing Tips

Choose the best cultivar for you

There are many Roma tomatoes available, so be sure to pick the best one. There are subtle differences in the cultivars that make them more suitable for sauces, canning or pastes. Some are also great raw.

Place the plant in full sunlight

Roma tomatoes need direct sunlight in order to thrive and grow like all tomatoes. You can set them up for success by planting them in a place that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight per day, but ideally 8-10.

For those who require it, provide cages

While determinate tomatoes don’t require as much trellising support than their indeterminate cousins, some varieties can still grow very bushy and produce heavy fruits. Heavy tomatoes can snap the branches, so cages are used to reduce the weight.

Your fertilizer should be balanced

Roma tomatoes produce dense, meaty tomatoes with low water content. They require phosphorus in the soil to help their fruits develop these characteristics. For even leaf and fruit development, all tomatoes require phosphorus and nitrogen. However, you need to be careful about fertilizers that contain too much nitrogen for Roma tomatoes.

Roma tomatoes should be firm when they are ripe

Firmness is usually used to gauge tomato ripeness. Most other tomatoes will become soft when they are ripe. Roma tomato cultivars can still be quite firm even when they are ripe. As a reliable indicator of ripeness, you should consider the fullness and consistency in color and shine.

Sauces and pastes can be frozen immediately after harvesting

Tomatoes retain more flavor and nutrition when frozen or canned than other fruits and vegetables. To preserve these characteristics in your sauces, salsas, and pastes, it is important to harvest Roma tomatoes as soon as possible.

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