Roma-Tomato.com - The Portal for Roma Tomatoes -
Disclaimer: The following How To is just one way to grow a roma tomato plant. There are many different methods, tips and do's and dont's on growing tomatoes. The following method is right for our climate zone, requirements, and situation. We hope that it will be helpful to readers. Also, tomatoes grown in containers larger than 5 gallons, (10 to 25 gallons) will produce more and larger fruit, but 5 gallon is what we have to work with this year. So,...
Update June 28, 2009:
A lot has happened in the past 2 weeks and not much of it is good. First off, we are getting mid-July Summer heat in the middle of June, about a month early. And I mean scorching heat! For 2 weeks, there has been solid 95 to 105 degree heat, with a heat index (humidity factored in) of up to 109 degrees every single day. Only a few blooms have produced new tomatoes but tomato production has largely stopped altogether.
What can you do when you have blossom rot? After you got it, not much. It's easier to prevent it from happening then it is to cure it. - See, when I mixed my little bit of peat moss with my compost and top soil to make my container mix, I incorrectly assumed the few crushed eggshells I tossed in carried enough calcium. Or maybe it did, and by chance that bucket didn't get enough eggshell calcium in the mixture, or it did and it just didn't get to the roots, or it was watered too much and washed out. - Either way, I take the blame. (BTW, blossom rot is not related to the heat wave unless I did water too much).
I'll tell you about my attempt to fix the problem, albeit late, but let's jump ahead to what you need to remember to do next year. As you are mixing the compost, peat moss and top soil together for your containers next year, throw in a cup or two of lime, or crushed eggshells, and mix it up real good with that soil.
5 gallon container tomatoes 2x per day. Well, that scorching heat wave came earlier than expected, hotter than expected and I had to move up my soil and rock mulch schedule. I wasn't sure how these white quartz river rocks would work, but they are doing much better than I expected. Looks like I might be watering once a day or less and not the 2x I expected.
Soil Temperatures: Feeling inspired, I used my wife's meat thermometer (with her permission) to take soil temperatures. At about a 5 inch depth, on 3 seperate plants, the soil temperature ranged from 86 to 88 degrees. Nice! :-) - Keep in mind, I watered 20 hours ago, and it is 100 degrees outside right now at 1500hrs. While the soil is a comfortable 88 degrees in 100 degree heat, the rocks are only lukewarm - not near as hot as I thought they would be.
Let's see some pictures...
This is the same close up of the 3 young roma tomatoes you saw earlier, but now they are about 2 weeks older. This one here is ripening faster than my Early Girl Tomatoes.
Same Roma Tomato plant seen further above under the June 15th update. This one has about 16 Roma Tomatoes on it so far... The other Roma of the same age has about the same.
Update: July 14, 2009
Not really much to report over the last 2.5 weeks. My introduction of lime into the soil and by making "lime tea" (cup of lime mixed with 1 gallon of water), has helped the blossom rot on most of my tomatoes except one young roma, but the tomatoes there are improving and the blossom rot is less severe. I will keep treating it as I have.
The Roma's are throwing out lots of fruit and we've collected about 20 so far among the 3 remaining good plants and we made plain roma tomato sauce with them which we documented and will make into a short video. (This sauce also included 4 early girl tomatoes that we didn't have anything else to do with, so we threw them in too).
The Roma's are not offering ripe tomatoes all at the same time, like determinate tomatoes are defined as doing, but I don't really care - just as long as I get tomatoes. I have to say that probably because they are container grown, the fruit I am getting are a lot smaller than normal. Probably in the one to two ounce range, and sometimes smaller. This roma classic breed isn't known for it's size either. Next year, for the 2010 growing journal, I will be attempting Rio Grande Roma tomatoes which are larger and known for the ability to endure the heat - a good choice for Oklahoma.
Continuing on, although small, the fruit are packed with delicious flavor and the sauce we made was just simply - incredible. With only a tablespoon of salt added to fresh, just made tomato sauce, the flavor exploded and was out of this world.
My wife said the smaller roma tomatoes that she ate as snacks were very delicious, but the skin was a little thick. Thick tomato skin, as my theory goes, is a product of the super heat we have as the skin on the tomatoes here must be thicker to retain the water and keep from cracking. ALL of my tomatoes grown here in the Tulsa area end up having thick skins.
Roma tomato plant. We've already picked about 6 to 8 good tomatoes off this plant which started ripening about 10 days ago. Thanks to the rock mulch added earlier, I am still only watering once a day. Have not fertilized, don't believe I will.