Monday, August 25, 2008

Barbie Says, Let's Can More!

Careful what you wish for, Barbie. The ground around our Roma plants is littered with tomatoes. I have a feeling if you just gave the plants a good shake, you'd have an unending supply.

These are the pulpy, less juicy variety of tomatoes ideal for dicing and canning or turning into tomato sauce or paste. Each plant produces a phenomenal number of tomatoes. They were beginning to pile up around the base of the plants inside their cages. After collecting those, I went after the ripe ones still on the vine and realized that those were rarely still attached--they had fallen but were hung up in the foliage. Too many tomatoes even to count.

We may have enough tomatoes to last the winter. As you can see, our Romas are prolific but not necessarily large. Next year I'd like to try the famed San Marzano tomato and see how that fares. Any readers have experience with the San Marzano or care to make a comparison with the Roma?


el said...

Hi Ed: I am growing San Marzanos for the first time this year. I have two seed sources (one was a gift). Compared to the Romas, they are a lot more elongated, take a bit longer to ripen, and, what I have noticed, the larger fruit are always at the bottom of the plants. They are a great paste tomato though as their cavities are empty and can be easily seeded. My Romas (3 different kinds) tend to be a bit more fleshy and juicy, a bit harder to seed...thus, I grew the San Marzanos. But (but!) these aren't as crazily, spookily prolific.

Leslie said...

I've grown San Marzanos for a few years..I like them a lot and they make great slow-dried tomatoes (in the oven). This year I'm also growing Sausage which are also..or even more so...prolific. They are perhaps a bit juicier than the San Marzanos.

Sylvie, Rappahannock Cook & Kitchen Gardener said...

Growing both a Roma type (Viva Italia) and a San Marzano. San Marzano is a bigger almost pear shape tomato. The packet says it's indeterminate (we'll see) while Viva Italia is determinate and will peter out soon. They both produce strongly. Agree with the prior poster than San Marzano are nicer for oven drying or Savory oven roasted tomatoes. The recipe is at

They are just different. San Marzano is almost "empty" inside and has few seeds. Viva Italia is nicer to eat fresh, being more "meaty".

They both make good sauce.

Mary said...

Hi! Don't know about the tomatoes, just wanted to let you know I made the Martha Stewart refrigerator pickles (you asked for people to tell you) from cukes from our CSA.

Delicious, is the verdict. So easy, too! My daughter eats them like candy.

Martha/All the Dirt said...

Yes Yes grow San Marzos or San Marzanos.

I grew them this year for the first time and what great canning tomatoes they are.

Right now, there are S.M. seeds soaking in water to guarantee their availability for next year.

Martha/All the Dirt said...

Yes Yes grow San Marzos or San Marzanos.

I grew them this year for the first time and what great canning tomatoes they are.

Right now, there are S.M. seeds soaking in water to guarantee their availability for next year.

earth heart said...

I grew San Marzanos last year. It was the first time I had tomatoes get blossom end rot. I planted Amish Paste in the same garden space this year with no difference in care and have had excellent results, in fact a bumper crop. I'll be planting these again next year.

Deb said...

I am jealous. Absolutely jealous. All of my tomatoes are still green.

Ed Bruske said...

El, I should have known that you would have all the bases covered already. Thanks for the intel. You're an incredible resource.

Leslie, we haven't tried drying tomatoes. I wonder if that's reason enough to put in a San Marzano plant. Sausage tomato? I'm intrigued.

Sylvie, thanks for the confirmation on the San Marzanos. We don't use a lot of dried tomatoes. Should we start?

Mary, I just made another big bath of the refrigerator pickles with some of the bigger cukes in the garden. They definitely get better with age. But careful--they don't last forever.

Martha, good for you, saving your seeds. We should all be so organized.

Earth Heart, I'm not so sure blossom end rot is dependent on tomato variety. It is caused by calcium deficiency. You should have your soil tested and make sure you have a proper balance of nutrients in it.

Deb, it is amazing how seasons differ in different parts of the country. But your tomatoes will be ripe eventually, guaranteed. Enjoy them while you have them.

Heidi said...

Ed, I love your blog--it's one of my morning stops in blogland and I'm learning so much from you. I also love your sidebar links!

This post is interesting as I'm (already!) wondering which tomatoes to grow next year and the comments here are helpful as well. I love oven-dried tomatoes (it's also nice to have an alternate method of preservation) and will have to look at San Marzanos, too. I grew some Black Plum tomatoes this year which did well, but I don't think I knew how small they were or I never would have grown them with the intention of making sauce! It's like making sauce with cherry toms!

I also have to agree with Earth Heart and say that some varieties may require more calcium than others to be happy--I grew six varieties this year in Earthboxes (those self-watering tubs) and though they all had the same soil and all got watered the same way, only the Orange Banana toms got blossom end rot this year. Perhaps some of the drier paste tomatoes need more water/calcium intake.

Well, that was a long first comment. I look forward to hearing about your Fall garden!