Roma tomatoes are the traditional paste tomatoes. With their dense and meaty flesh, low moisture content, and few seeds they are the ideal tomatoes for processing into sauces and pastes. Roma tomatoes have a cylindrical or plum shape, and feel heavy for their size. Their colors range from pink to orange to deep red. Veeroma, La Roma, and Sam Marzano are among the many popular Roma varieties.
New varieties of Roma are both flavorful for eating and meaty for cooking. These include Roma Napoli, Martino’s Roma, and Rio Grande Roma. Cherry Romas are small and sweet, perfect for snacking.
Growing Roma Tomatoes
You can start Roma tomatoes from seeds indoor two months before the last frost date for your area. Or, you can purchase seedlings (also called starts) from a local nursery or garden center and transplant them after the danger of frost has past.
Romas need the same conditions as other tomatoes—well-drained soil high in organic matter, full sun, and plenty of water. Plant them about 14 to 20 inches apart. They’ll be ready to harvest in about 75 to 80 days. Because Romas are determinate plants all the fruits ripen at about the same time, which is a big advantage if you’re making sauce.
Learn more details about how to grow tomatoes.
Harvesting Roma Tomatoes
Harvest your Roma tomatoes when the fruit is firm and evenly colored. If the temperature reaches 90 degrees F it’s best to pick the fruit when it’s just started to color to ripen indoors at about 70 degrees F. Tomatoes won’t survive a frost, so if frost is predicted bring in the unripe fruits and ripen them in paper bags at 60 degrees or so.
Roma Tomato Pests and Diseases
Many Roma tomatoes are resistant to early blight, fusarium and verticillium wilt, diseases that plague tomatoes. Always choose seeds or seedlings that are VF resistant.
If you see a water-soaked area near the blossom end (bottom) of the fruit, your tomato may have blossom end rot, which is basically a calcium deficiency. To help avoid this problem don’t plant your tomatoes until the soil has warmed up and keep the soil evenly moist.
Tomato hornworms are big green caterpillars that camouflage themselves along the stems of tomato plants. The best thing to do is to pick them off—if you can find them!
To maximize productivity and minimize insect and disease problems select varieties that grow well in your area. Local nurseries and Cooperative Extension can give you that information and help you identify plant problems. You can find your local extension office from this web site: http://www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/.
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