Saturday, 5 September 2009

Striped Roman Tomatoes

Stripe Roman Tomatoes
Well, these are very interesting. They are, in an odd sort of way, a modern heirloom tomato, which ought to be a contradiction in terms. John Swenson, a member of Seed-Savers Exchange,
developed these by crossing two old varieties; banana legs and antique roman. At least that's the case for the red striped roman; I can really find no information about the yellow striped romans, but I suppose them to come from John Swenson as well. As you can see, the red ones were quite a bit larger than the yellow ones, but the yellow ones started ripening first. They are rather beautiful, with a long horn shape and a pattern like dyed alabaster. They have a distinctive little point, or nipple, at the end. They are apparently also called speckled roman tomatoes, although they really are striped.

They are a paste, or cooking tomato, with dense, meaty flesh not overly loaded with seeds. They were more than tasty enough to eat fresh though. The yellows in particular were rather mellow and non-acidic while still having plenty of flavour.

Reports on growing these seem rather mixed. Some people complain of light yields; others think them heavy bearers. They also seem prone to molds and mildews, as well as blossom end rot and late blight, although I have had no problems in my garden; mine have been turning out a steady supply of healthy tomatoes for the last week or so. Some suggest that they do well in cooler weather, which we have certainly had, no doubt about it.


caroline said...

I also have been unable to find information on the yellow striped romans. One plant of my 20 speckled romans grew the yellow variety. They were just as big as the red, and very sweet, almost a nectarine flavor. Also, they were an intense yellow/gold color, very beautiful. I am saving the seeds. :)

Ferdzy said...

Hi Caroline;

Since I posted this, I have discovered they were sold to me under a wrong name - the yellow ones are actually called "Banana Legs" and as I said above, they are one of the parents of Striped (or Speckled, which I also discovered is the official name) Roman. There *is no* Yellow Striped Roman which is why we can't find any info.

You must have a throw-back to the Banana Legs ancestry in the strain. They don't sound exactly the same as Banana Legs, but it does sound like a great tomato and it's worth saving the seed to see if this genetic combo is stable. Aren't tomatoes fun!

pjkobulnicky said...

Red Striped Romans have become my primary cooking tomato. I find them a bit on the mealy side for fresh eating and they lack acid in the taste for a table tomato. But for cooking they are superb. I have found nothing that makes a better fresh tomato pasta sauce.

They do need a steady supply of water to prevent blossom end rot and they are productive like a San Marzano (steady over a long season) rather than the huge, all-at-once, cropping Roma. My Striped Romans are still producing here in NE Ohio (yes, this is an exceptional year) and that is fairly typical. Mine have also been fairly tolerant of bacterial and fungal diseases ... especially when compared to other heirlooms. I also find seed saving to be very effective for this variety.