Vegetables and Fruit forum: San Marzano tomatoes

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Name: Amber Greene
Santa Barbara, California (Zone 10b)
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outlieramb
Mar 30, 2016 12:10 PM CST
I live in the California Central Valley near Santa Barbara. I have chosen San Marzano for my garden this year and would appreciate any advice! I am a novice gardener who will be working with containers and soil. I am looking for tips on how to get fhe healthiest tastiest tomatoes I can, organically. Any tips are appreciated but I would especially like advice on soil perpetuation and any advice specific to this species of tomato. Thank you.
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
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plantladylin
Mar 30, 2016 1:41 PM CST
Hi Amber, Welcome to All Things Plants! The mini San Marzano has become my new favorite snack since finding them at the grocery store for the first time a couple of years ago .... it has such a great taste! I haven't grown tomatoes in a long time so I can't offer any growing tips but we do have a few varieties of the San Marzano listed in the database with helpful information: http://garden.org/plants/search/text.php?q=San+Marzano&butto...

I'm sure other tomato growers will be popping in with growing tips for you! Once you get acclimated to the site you might want to browse some of the threads in the fruit and veggie forum: http://garden.org/forums/view/eateat/ Please don't hesitate to ask questions, join in the chat and share information and photos of your experiences with your new garden!

Again, Welcome!

Lin
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Name: Bob
Vernon N.J. (Zone 6a)
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NJBob
Mar 30, 2016 3:02 PM CST
I grew them a few years ago and did not treat them different then any other tomato. The plants got fairly large so if doing in container I would think 5 gallon or larger would be best. I did not grow them again because my growing season was not long enough for them and had tons of green ones at end of the season.
Name: Rob Duval
Mason, New Hampshire (Zone 5b)
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robertduval14
Mar 30, 2016 4:01 PM CST

Plants Admin

Perhaps @Newyorkrita has grown these? I think I've seen her mention this variety before...we'll see what she has to say if I am correct about her having grown them...
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
Mar 30, 2016 4:16 PM CST
I grew San Marzano a few years ago. I'm thinking maybe it was a "paste" tomato which is a type that is good for making sauce or paste but not necessarily great for eating fresh. I've not tried the mini San Marzano that Lin mentions though.

Biggest thing for tasty tomatoes is the longest day of full sun you can give them, plus of course enough water to size them up nicely. Don't grow them in the ground anywhere near trees, either. The tree roots will invade your tomato bed and suck up all the nutrients and water.

A great organic soil amendment that tomatoes really go for is alfalfa pellets - horse food. It's available at feeds stores in 50lb. bags for about $18. Be sure you're getting straight alfalfa, though. Some pellets for rabbits and such have vitamins, oils or other additives that you don't need. I add a couple of cups to each planting hole and mix it up with the surrounding soil before placing the plant in there. It releases some nitrogen at first for great foliage growth, then gradually peters out and just adds good organic texture to the soil. You do need to also use some complete organic fertilizer once the plants start to bloom.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
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Newyorkrita
Mar 30, 2016 4:21 PM CST
Welcome! Welcome! Welcome to ATP Amber . Welcome! Welcome!

Well first off my growing conditions and yours in 10B would be quite different. With you summer heat I think you would need a very large container so that the soil does not dry out. And secondly you really don't want those roots to get quite hot as they would in a smaller container in your climate.

I think it might simply be too warm for you to grow summer tomatoes in your zone and you might need to garden in the early spring and early fall to get a crop.

I did grow the San Marzano variety last year. But yup, they don't need anything different than any other variety.

They are dry and great for cooking but not for eating fresh unless you wish to add them to Salsa.

Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
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plantladylin
Mar 30, 2016 4:21 PM CST
The Mini San Marzano's that I buy at Publix Supermarkets, I use for salads ... or most of the time I just wash them and eat them right out of the little bag!
~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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plantladylin
Mar 30, 2016 4:26 PM CST
Garden Planting Calendar for Santa Barbara, Ca: http://garden.org/apps/calendar/?q=Santa+Barbara%2C+Californ...

It says for Spring to transplant tomato seedlings into the garden from Jan 4 - Jan 18th.
It says for Fall to transplant tomato seedlings into the garden from Sept 17 - October 2nd

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Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
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Newyorkrita
Mar 30, 2016 4:31 PM CST
plantladylin said:Garden Planting Calendar for Santa Barbara, Ca: http://garden.org/apps/calendar/?q=Santa+Barbara%2C+Californ...

It says for Spring to transplant tomato seedlings into the garden from Jan 4 - Jan 18th.
It says for Fall to transplant tomato seedlings into the garden from Sept 17 - October 2nd



So yup, it avoids summer.
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
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dyzzypyxxy
Mar 30, 2016 4:56 PM CST
Oh, that's so right - if the summer temperatures get up into the high 90's or over 100 for a long stretch, your tomatoes will just stop flowering. They also do that here when the night temperatures get above about 75.

My kids live in Salt Lake City, and some summers their tomatoes stop flowering for about a month over the middle of the summer if they get a sustained run of 100's. Some years they don't, though.

I've had luck both in Salt Lake and here in Florida with the smaller fruited types of tomatoes - cherries and grape tomatoes seem to bear in higher temperatures. They can go well into June for me here which is nearly a month longer than regular tomatoes.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Mar 30, 2016 6:25 PM CST
I grew San Marzanos last year for the first time -- they were very productive, but I agree with Rita that they were very solid, much more suited to making sauce and canning than just eating fresh IMO. My plants were also quite tall (over 5 feet), so I wouldn't say they are the best type for growing in containers (although I'm sure plenty of people do so). Definitely give them some good (tall) support.

Welcome to All Things Plants, Amber -- I hope you'll join us over on the vegetables and fruits forum and let us know how the SMs do for you! Smiling
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Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Mar 30, 2016 6:57 PM CST
Hi Amber. Welcome to ATP! Welcome!

I am from the other California central valley (San Joaquin) and it just HOT! If you plan to grow tomatoes in containers, find at least 10 gallon - the bigger the better - and then insulate them. If you don't work out a way to keep the roots cool, you won't be successful growing anything.

Tomatoes, given the chance, will root 6 feet deep. Most of their root mass is way down there. In the garden, deep watering once a week, after they are established, would be plenty. In a pot, you will be watering every day or every other day.

The cheap way to do it is find someone planting trees out of those big 15 gallon pots, and insulate it with a roll of that silver insulation used for ducts.

Another way is to buy a giant bag of potting soil, lay it flat and make a slit in the bag and plant. Remember to put a couple holes in the bottom for drainage. The plant will cover the bag and provide its own insulation. I found a picture for you:

https://www.google.com/search?q=planting+tomatoes+in+bags+of...

My only other thought is that you grow at least one other type of tomato. If, for some reason, the San Marzano doesn't do well this year, you will have other options. Look for tomato plants that are "indeterminate". My favorite container tomato is Husky Red.

Daisy
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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plantladylin
Mar 30, 2016 9:40 PM CST
The Mini San Marzano's that I buy from the supermarket say they are greenhouse grown in Texas. They are not dry at all, rather juicy in fact and I love the taste ... but maybe I have weird taste buds. Smiling
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Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
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Newyorkrita
Mar 31, 2016 8:49 AM CST
The regular San Marzanos I grew in the garden were really dry. Drier than common Rommas which of course are the common paste tomatoes.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Mar 31, 2016 9:55 AM CST
"The cheap way to do it is find someone planting trees out of those big 15 gallon pots, and insulate it with a roll of that silver insulation used for ducts. "

Daisy, I grow my plants in-ground, so maybe that's why I don't understand this... but I don't remember ever seeing anyone recommend using the insulation on the pots like that. Is that to keep them from heating up too much in the sun?

Good advice, I think, to grow more than the one kind of tomato -- and the suggestion for using a determinate type. Thumbs up
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Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Mar 31, 2016 10:25 AM CST
In areas were the temps hit 100 and stay that way for weeks, tomato growing is sometimes tough in the ground, let alone in a container.

In the ground, mulch is a smart move (If you live in the desert or So Cal or San Jaoquin). Layering newspaper between the rows helps tomatoes keep producing.

Have you ever seen a tomato cook on the vine? Its depressing. Also, uneven moisture causes bud end rot and fruit drop.

Daisy


[Last edited by DaisyI - Mar 31, 2016 10:29 AM (+)]
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Name: Amber Greene
Santa Barbara, California (Zone 10b)
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outlieramb
Mar 31, 2016 11:15 AM CST
Okay here's a little more information - my plan is to use 20 gallon smart pots or a similar concept. The 20 gallon should be deep enough for a strong root system yet the fabric will allow for air circulation to assist in keeping them cool. The 20 gallon size also allows for the use of cages. I chose the San marzano originally because I plan to make and can saucec. I was looking for a determinate type and the website I had consulted had a misprint where they listed the San marzano as determine instead of indeterminate. I only realized after I'd sowed the seeds so I suppose I'm committed now. Am growing the regular sized San Marzano variety purchased through Seeds of Change. I live in an apartment so in ground planting is not an option.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
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Weedwhacker
Mar 31, 2016 11:21 AM CST
DaisyI said:
Have you ever seen a tomato cook on the vine? Its depressing. Also, uneven moisture causes bud end rot and fruit drop.

Daisy




No... but I've seen plenty of them freeze on the vine! Rolling on the floor laughing

"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
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Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
Mar 31, 2016 11:49 AM CST
Amber,

Twenty gallons is perfect! But if you are getting the black ones, spray paint them white or cream. Black absorbs heat - light colors reflect heat. Watch the soil temperature as the weather warms up. If the plants start doing poorly and not growing as quickly/well as you thought they would, insulate.

If you aren't using a timer for watering, try to be consistant with when/how often you water.

Daisy
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Mar 31, 2016 12:18 PM CST
Wow, are you sure about this venture, Amber? How many containers do you have room for outside your apartment?

You need a TON of tomatoes to make enough sauce to can.

My experience (and I had a big garden in Salt Lake when I did this) was that after all the growing, harvesting, peeling and cooking, the small amount of (frozen) sauce I ended up with from about 25 plants was not worth all the effort AND (adding insult to injury) it really didn't taste any better than the store-bought sauce even with my home-grown herbs added. Plus, I'd used my whole garden space on the sauce tomatoes and so we didn't have any fresh tomatoes to eat that summer and everyone was mad at me about that . . .

My advice? Grow tasty tomatoes to eat fresh, because you can't get them at a store and buy a good quality organic sauce (Trader Joe's is wonderful).
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill

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