VEGETABLE SEEDS: Tomato - Roma
Lycopersicon lycopersicum 'Roma'
Regular leaf, determinate
Bred in Beltsville, Maryland in the 1950s at the Plant Industry Station from a triple cross of Red Top, Pan American and San Marzano, Roma has become the classic paste tomato. Red 7.5 cm (3 in) pear shaped meaty fruit start to ripen in late August and have little juice, cooking down to sauce easily, though they are also tasty enough to eat fresh – as well as making the best bruschetta.
Start plants indoors mid-March to the beginning of April. Cover seed with 0.6 cm (1/4 in) of soil, tamp and water. Seeds germinate best at soil temperatures above 24°C (75°F), so an elecÍtric heat mat is helpful. We use 72 cell plug trays and let the seedlings get quite large and crowded - or pot them up as they grow, or start in large containers. Wait until risk of frost has passed before planting out to the garden, usually early to mid-June. Gently loosen root bound plugs to encourage root growth and remove leaves halfway up the stalk, then bury at an angle so the bare stem is covered - it will form roots. Space plants 45 cm (18 in) apart. Tomatoes thrive when the average temperature is above 15°C (60°F), so a greenhouse or plastic covered hoop house is beneficial, especially in early and late season.