How To Grow and Harvest Roma Tomatoes
Roma tomatoes belong to the Plum tomato group which produces meaty, full-flavored fruits essential for making sauces and soups.
They are vigorous growers producing oval-shaped fruits with dark red, thick, meaty flesh and generally has a low juice content.
Why Roma Tomatoes
Used primarily for bottling and cooking into thick sauces or tomato paste, Roma tomatoes are also tasty when eaten fresh owing to their rich flavor.
This tomato flowers and bears its heavy yielding crop all at once, which makes them the perfect harvest solution for bottling or making large batches of sauces.
Romas stop growing after they reach a certain height, and since they are shorter than other varieties of the Plum family, they can be grown in smaller cages or left to sprawl on a well-mulched ground.
What To Look For When Buying Roma Plants
If you decide to grow your own Romas buy short seedlings in punnets, individual pots or trays with dark green leaves but no flowers or fruits.
Avoid plants with spotted or yellow leaves or those showing any signs of pests on the undersides of the leaves.
How To Prepare The Soil
Have the ground prepared ready for planting in a nice sunny location away from large, paved areas as reflected heat can reduce fruiting. Romas grow best with at least six hours of direct sun per day and good air circulation.
As they are deep-rooted plants they thrive in well-drained soil that has been dug deep and enriched with lots of well-rotted compost.
How To Plant Roma Tomatoes
Two days before planting, use a clean, sharp knife to cut between seedlings growing together in punnets to stimulate new roots to form. When the weather warms in spring, pick the lower leaves off the seedlings.
Dig 6-8 inch (15-20cm) deep holes and plant the seedling so only the top leaves are above the ground.
This will encourage deep, drought-resistant roots as the roots will form along the stem.
How To Protect Roma Plant Seedlings
Cutworms can be a threat and kill seedlings by chewing through their stems at ground level.
To protect the seedlings at planting time push a cardboard tube, such as used on a toilet roll, over each plant to about an inch (3cm) into the soil.
If the weather is still cool place a hot cap over each seedling. A hot cap collects heat and allows ventilation.
You can easily make one by cutting off the bottom of a plastic drink or cordial bottle and removing the cap.
When To Add Tomato Cages to Roma Tomatoes
When the plants grow to about 12 inches (30cm), place tomato cages, which are circular wire or plastic mesh frames, over them. Stake the cages securely to prevent them from toppling over when the fruits ripen.
When To Water & Mulch Roma Tomatoes
Keep the soil evenly moist, particularly in summer by watering regularly. Feed with weekly applications of fish emulsion or other suitable liquid fertilizer, adhering to the labels directions until the plants begin to bloom.
Mulch the plants well with compost, straw or dried grass clippings to help retain soil moisture and to reduce weeds.
When To Pick Roma Tomatoes
For the best flavor, pick the fruits after they have fully ripened on the plants. In cooler climates, or if frost threatens, pick all the fruit and ripen them indoors.
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