Wednesday, 1 September 2010
Viva Italia, Martino's Roma, & Romeo Tomatoes
What do these three tomatoes have in common? They are all Italian style paste tomatoes. They all grew in our garden this year. And probably, they will not be grown in our garden next year.
First of all, Viva Italia, which is a classic Italian paste tomato, producing 3 ounce fruits on a determinate plant; about 75 days to maturity from setting them out. This is one of the very few hybrid tomatoes we grew this year and I can't say it's any better than the open-pollinated ones; in fact we don't like it nearly as well as Amish Paste, Opalka or even Bellestar. It isn't nice at all when raw, and even cooked we found the flavour adequate, but kind of dull and lacking in depth. It's supposed to be a disease-resistant tomato which it may very well be, but since we had no troubles with any diseases in our garden this year, it didn't matter. And finally, it did not produce particularly large amounts of tomatoes compared to the others already mentioned. In short, there isn't particularly anything wrong with this tomato, but there are enough better ones out there that I think it's going to be dropped.
Martino's Roma - the little tomatoes on the right, in the above picture - did not wow us either, although I can see growing it again for canning whole. It's an open-pollinated heritage variety, also determinate and ready in about 75 days. The tomatoes are very cute, being fairly small (perhaps 2 ounces each) and very plentiful. The plants were absolutely loaded with tomatoes. We used them in sauce, and they were a pain to work with because they were so small - larger tomatoes are definitely easier. The skins were also remarkably thick and tough. Again, we didn't like them at all raw, finding them bland and dry, and did not think they had a particularly notable flavour cooked either, although they were a lot better cooked than raw, having a fairly standard classic tomato flavour. I think if I were to grow these again, it would be because I wanted to can whole tomatoes to be served as a vegetable. They are just the perfect size for that. Again, there are better tomatoes for sauce or crushed tomatoes; both in terms of flavour and a better size to work with.
And finally, these are Romeo. I thought they were relatively common - I remember growing them back when I had an allotment garden, as well as buying them as started plants last year (from which we saved the seeds for this years crop) but there is remarkably little information about them out there. Apparently they were introduced by Peters Seed & Research, an American based company that is now out of business. No one in Canada seems to be selling them this year.
They are a large, paste tomato produce on indeterminate vines and like the others they are ready in about 75 days. Again, they don't taste nice at all when raw, but we thought they had good flavour once cooked - perhaps not the best, but better than Viva Italia or Martino's Roma. They had a classic tomato flavour with a touch of sweetness to them. Some people report tomatoes of over a pound each from Romeo. Ours were considerably smaller than that, but still a good large size and produced reasonably plentifully on the plants. I would grow these again in a pinch, but I do think I like Amish Paste and Opalka better.