Growing Roma Tomato
in Northeast Florida Vegetable Gardens
Roma tomatoes are an American sauce variety, or perhaps more commonly known as an Italian plum tomato, with low seeds and thick walled, meaty fruits that have a low water content making them perfect for cooking as they break down nicely into a thick tasty sauce. They are also the perfect pizza topping sliced and added to the top of your home made pie. The bright red egg shaped fruits are born in abundance on determinate vines. Harvest in as little as 73-80 days from planting.
Planting Season for Roma Tomato in Jacksonville and St. Augustine Florida and the surrounding areas:
Tomatoes are considered a warm season crop, they are frost sensitive and should only be planted in frost free months in Northeast Florida vegetable gardens. However, tomato growing season is split into two seasons in Northeast Florida as tomato production will slow to nearly nothing during the hottest summer months of June and July.
Start your tomato plants in February from seed, and February straight through March and April from S & J Nursery transplants. The second growing season for tomato plants in the Jacksonville and St. Augustine area garden is August and September, Roma, Italian plum tomatoes can be planted out again in those months and allowed to grow up until the first killing frost.
Sun Exposure for growing Roma Tomatoes in Northeast Florida Vegetable Gardens:
Plant your Roma tomatoes in a full sun or afternoon sun location for the Jacksonville and St. Augustine area garden. Make sure they will receive a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight for best results.
Soil Preferences for Roma Tomato in the Jacksonville and St. Augustine Florida areas:
Roma tomato plants will do best in the Northeast Florida garden when grown in soils that have been generously amended with compost and cow manure. Be sure to plant into well drained soils and not in an are that will have standing water after a hard rain.
Care of Roma Tomato in the Northeast Florida Vegetable Garden:
Staking your Roma Tomato plant:
Roma tomato is a fast growing determinate variety that is a heavy producer of inch wide by 2-3 inch long fruits. A tomato cage from the local hardware store should be adequate to support your Roma tomato plant.
Watering your Roma Tomato Plants:
Newly planted tomato plants will require watering daily for the first few days to a week after being planted from seed or transplanted from an S & J Nursery container.
Once the tomato plants are established and growing, be sure to keep the soil moist by watering at least twice per week if rainfall is scarce. Container grown tomato plants will need watered 3 to 4 times per week, or every time the top two inches of soil is dry to the touch.
Mulching your Roma Tomato plants:
For maximum growth potential, mulching plants generously, this will help conserve moisture.
Fertilizing Your Roma Tomato plants:
Feed every two to three weeks with an all purpose fertilizer like 6-6-6.
Or for an organic approach, try fertilizing with a mixture of fish emulsions and seaweed (kelp) at one ounce each per gallon of water. Apply semi weekly as a foliar spray.
If your vegetable plants look like they could use a boost, give them a good watering with homemade compost tea as soon as the top few inches of soil around your plant is dry to the touch!
Harvesting Your Roma Tomato in the Northeast Florida Vegetable Garden:
Roma tomatoes can be harvested when green and allowed to ripen indoors if needed but best flavor will develop when they are allowed to ripen on the plant and picked when fully red.
Store at room temperature for 2-3 days once picked from the vine. For best results do not refrigerate.
Expect tomatoes to be ready to harvest from your San Marzano tomato plants in 73-80 days from planting.