Saturday, 5 September 2009
Striped 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.