Tomato plant

scrapbetterApril 22, 2012

I have a roma plants that are only about 14 or 15 inches tall that are already putting flowers out. ???? We love roasting our tomatoes, but will it put out very many this year if it is doing this when the plant is so small?

What should I do? Do I just keep adding mulch and hope for the best?

I really want to add a blackberry... Does anyone have a recommendation?

My soil is getting a bit better each year.. I only have a city lot, but I still have one area that is sticky icky clay... Adding cardboard and leaves every year really does seem to be helping every where that I have done it....

I have been gardening in Oklahoma for just a few years now and I have to say, it is not a leisurely hobby here at all.... in fact, I don't mean to be negative about it, but it feels like war.

I am writing it all down. It should read as a comedy at this rate.


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Hmmmm I'm not sure what to tell you about you Roma. I'm actually having issues with my little 2 Roma seedling myself which sucks since they are open pollinated, heirloom variety. I'm a complete novice and don't know if mine will grow anymore. All my other tomato plants I bought were past seedling state so I'm not sure if the 2 I'm growing from seed at growing at the proper rate or not. Good luck with yours though! Let's hope they all do well!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 3:26PM
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And to add to gardening in Oklahoma being like war.....I agree!! I lived near Atlanta, GA for about 8 months before returning to Oklahoma. We grew a few herbs and plants on our balcony there, which didn't even get much direct sunlight, and those plants did exceptionally well despite our lack of knowledge. This year, back in OK our plants are dieing and I'm at a loss lol. The conditions in GA are freakin perfect for gardening if you ask me. Sometimes I wish I could go back, but not until I'm done with school.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 3:31PM
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Hmmm, Roma tomatoes, huh?

First, I don't remove blossoms from any tomato plant, because with any luck at all, that blossom will become a fruit. I especially would not remove a blossom from a determinate plant like Roma, because it is not going to be a huge plant anyway, and most of it's fruit will set at one time, or over a few short weeks.

Second, Roma is normally early for me, so I expect early fruit set from it. Don't be surprised if the earliest fruit has BER which Roma seems to be notorious for in my container garden although nothing else has it. I'm not sure I have ever grown Roma in the in ground garden, because I mostly save that good location for indeterminate plants.

Third, I only plant Roma when DH requests that I do because almost every heirloom that I can think of tastes better to me than Roma. They are a great tomato if you want to make tomato paste, or use a lot in canning and have them all ripen near the same time, but they would not be my choice for a tomato to eat fresh.

Gardening in Oklahoma is tough, but certainly not impossible. Each year is different, so you just have to learn to read your plants so you know what to do. Some years, no matter what you do, it isn't good enough, but as a rule, tomatoes are easy, so with good soil, water and sunshine, they are likely to grow and produce.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 4:07PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


It takes a complicated set of circumstances to initiate blooming in a tomato plant, but it all relates to how many leaves the plant has, and it isn't exactly the same for every tomato variety. Once a tomato plant has reached that certain number of leaves, auxins develop that trigger the blooming---taking the plant from only vegetative growth to reproductive growth. If the daytime high temperatures and nighttime low temperatures are in the right range when the flowers form, pollination will occur and you'll get fruit. Sometimes the early flowers form too early, in terms of air temperatures, and do not form fruit and fall off the plant.

You can remove the early blossoms if you so choose, but I never do. Every flower you remove is a potential fruit. Because the temperatures here often get too hot too early in the year before a lot of fruit can set, I hate to do anything that interferes with fruitset. Usually, the temperatures don't get too hot for tomatoes to set fruit until sometime in mid- to late-June in my part of the state, but last year they got too hot in May. So, if you remove the early blossoms, you're betting that the really hot weather will arrive later rather than sooner.

If it were my plant, I'd leave it alone and let it do what comes naturally to it. It is your plant, though, so you should do what feels right to you. Carol gave you a lot of good advice and information specific to Roma so I won't repeat it. I agree with everything she said about it. I've got 80 paste tomato plants in the ground and only three or four of them are Roma. There are a bunch of paste tomato varieties that suit my needs better than it does and that produce later. When Roma sets so much fruit so early in the season (which is typical of it), that's when you tend to see the blossom end rot issues with it because its own vascular system is too immature to function correctly with a heavy load of fruit on a young plant. I consider that to be the main failing of Roma.

Mulch will keep the root zone cooler and I'm all in favor of adding more mulch as the soil heats up. However, it won't impact whether or not your tomatoes set fruit. The plants are affected by air temperatures more so than soil temperatures, as long as the soil temperatures are above about 50-55 degrees. (Soil temps lower than that slow down the growth of the plant.)

There are many good blackberry varieties. I like Cherokee and Navajo, but you'll be limited to what you find in the stores and I don't know what they have this year because I haven't looked at them. Blackberries produce on old growth, so don't expect much in the way of berries this year. Plants put into the ground this year might give you some berries if they are pretty large and the larger canes are from last year, but basically if you're planting the plants now, your first real harvest will be next year.

Gardening in Oklahoma is challenging, but I don't consider it war. You just have to learn to roll with the punches and be flexible and able to change your plans quickly when Mother Nature throws you a curve ball. This year, we got hot early, so I planted early and so far it has paid off. In other years, if you plant earlier than the recommended dates, all you get is frozen plants. You have to take advantage of any little bit of help Mother Nature supplies---because sometimes she is not helpful at all (last year is a pretty good example of that).

There are points in time when gardening can be stressful, but if you feel stressed about it all the time, you need to ask yourself what you can do to lessen your stress (and I am not talking about giving up gardening).

Remember that plants want to grow. All we have to do is give them what they need--good soil with proper nutrients in it or supplemental feedings if the soil is poor, adequate light, adequate water, the proper temperatures (i.e. don't plant tomatoes in the ground in February or lettuce in May) for their needs, and protection from wildlife, and they will grow and produce just fine. Try not to obsess over the plants too much. Just plant them and let them grow. With people who are newer to gardening, it often is a case of "loving your plants to death" with too much attention, rather than too little. Most plants will do just fine without much attention from us if we just leave them alone and let them do what they do.

GarnerGarden, There are lots of people in Georgia who'd be happy to explain to you how challenging it is to grow some things there. I wouldn't exactly consider Georgia an easy place to grow plants in the native soil in full sun. Gardeners there have many challenges just as we do here, and in fact, a lot of the challenges are very similar. From your perspective, it was easy because you were growing in containers that did not receive a lot of direct light. Since you could control the soil quality, the moisture and were not dealing with full sun all day long, of course everything did well.

The gardening season here is young and if things are not going well, y'all certainly have time to turns things around.


    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 6:55PM
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Thank you!! I have grown the roma before and did not ever remember seeing blooms so quickly. What are other varieties that you use for paste that work better here? I have been really pleased with my roma plants except for last years "still life" exhibit during the heat/drought.
I also grow other tomato varieties for salads and sandwiches, but the roma so far has been my favorite for roasting and making slow cooked sauces.. Yummm (I cannot wait for this year's batch.)
I don't know if it is stress, so much as I am getting a bit cartoonish about it. I have a lot of other things to do everyday and my husband just shakes his head when I am outside after dark inspecting my plants (something is eating the leaves from some plants and not bothering others) or when I dug up the front flower beds and tossed grubworms in the driveway to watch the birdfest. (I mutter some not so well wishes as I toss them.)
Last year's drought, combined with the devastation caused by the enormous hail the year before have left me feeling just a tiny bit competitive about the garden this year. The years before I had 6ft tall tomato plants filled with fruit, lots of peppers and onions and other lovelies... I know I will see that success again...and I am hoping it will be this year..
In the meantime, I will continue to plant things. Perhaps I will have an urban oasis after all. :)

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 7:47PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Brenda, You might not have noticed blooms so early in past years because the weather might have stayed a bit cooler longer, the plant grew more slowly and was taller when it first bloomed. That's my best guess.

The paste/canning varieties I'm growing this year for use mostly in pasta sauce or home-made salsa are these:

San Marzano Redorta
Santa Clara Canner
Speckled Roman
Principe Borghese (grown for drying)
Roma VF
San Marzano Gigante 3
Schiavonne Italian Paste

Some other good to great paste varieties are Opalka, Rocky, Mama Leone, LaRoma III VFFNA, and Viva Italia.

For fresh pasta sauce, it is my preference to use a combination of whatever fruit I picked that day, whether it is from paste types, beefsteaks or slicers. My favorite sauces will include some fruit from varieties like Black Brandywine, Black Krim, Indian Stripe, Cherokee Purple, Brandy Boy, Big Beef, and Red Beefsteak. Of course you have to cook down the slicers and beefsteaks longer than the paste tomatoes, but it is worth it because the flavor is superb.

I have 173 tomato plants in the ground and another 39 in containers and they're lucky if I look at them once a week because I just don't have time to fuss with them. Occasionally that means I might not notice something---like cutworms stripping 6 plants down to bare stems when I'm busy elsewhere for a few days, but in general it all works out. Once they're planted, I get busy with other stuff and then don't really get back to them until fruit starts breaking color.

It is very hard when the weather interferes with the tomato plants' ability to produce fruit. Having it happen two years in a row is discouraging. I always try to can, dry and freeze tons of tomatoes in good years so those 'extras' will get us through the bad years. It works out pretty well most of the time.

I have a feeling we'll have a good tomato year this year. Maybe that's just because I want for all of us to have a good tomato year, but really my instincts told me all winter and into early spring that it will be a good year. Let's hope they're right.

It is hard to have a successful garden every single year without fail in our climate with our weather. Even when you have tomato plants loaded with ripening fruit in what looks like it will be a great garden year, there's no guarantee a tornado, severe thunderstorm with high wind, a downburst, hail, wildfire, flash flooding, etc. won't hit and wipe out everything the day before you were going to harvest the fruit. That's just part of life (and gardening) on the great plains.

The best way to be able to grow the better paste varieties is to raise them yourself from seed. I'm going to link the "paste tomato" section from the Tomato Growers Supply Co. website below so you can see how many are offered in this one single catalog.


Here is a link that might be useful: Paste Tomatoes at TGSC

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 9:59PM
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Dawn, I do hope you are right!! Thank you so much for the list! I guess I have been very fortunate not to have any trouble with my tomatoes other than weather.
I'm going to take your list to my local nursery to see if they have ANY of them on your list as plants. I would like to try more varieties.
I also had a couple of enormous wood shipping crates delivered yesterday. They are about 10 feet long each and about 16" tall, so now I am trying to figure out what I can plant in them. They are not chemically treated, so all I need to do is drill a few holes, add dirt and my lovely compost and make a decision. Since they are only about 18" across, I will have to think a bit.. Perhaps one for tomato plants? :) It would be splendid to have enough tomatoes to can!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 3:33PM
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