San Marzano tomatoes are distinct from your average tomato because of its shape and color. It’s a variety of the plum tomato that can be compared to the Roma tomatoes, which are the common ones that are usually canned or processed into tomato paste.
In this article, we will discuss the methods of growing San Marzano tomatoes. We will include the basic facts of the tomato, health and care, as well as the different methods of growing it.
Background of San Marzano Tomatoes
San Marzano tomatoes got their name from a small town in Naples, Italy. The town’s name is San Marzano sul Sarno, which is located in southern Italy. San Marzano tomatoes were documented to be first grown in volcanic soil at the base of Mount Vesuvius.
Because it came from Italy, San Marzano tomatoes are famous in the region. They are known to be used for as a pizza sauce or a canned delicacy. Since San Marzano tomatoes were first grown in volcanic soil, the tomatoes have a sweeter taste.
Besides the sweetness, San Marzano are distinct in their appearance because they’re more pointed and elongated. In truth, it looks more like a red bell pepper than a tomato. These distinct physical features of the San Marzano tomatoes lead to other perks.
To name a few, these tomatoes have fewer seed pockets. The average roma tomato usually have four seed pockets while the San Marzano only has two because of its elongated shape.
Moreover, these tomatoes also have a rich red pulp along with a skin that’s easy to remove.
Flavor of the San Marzano tomatoes
As mentioned earlier, San Marzano tomatoes are famous as sauces for pizzas, pastas, and other Italian cuisines. You’ll often get them canned so it’s easy to use for cooking. Some of the famous brands out there are Tuttorosso, Cento, and Sclafani.
Turning fresh San Marzano tomatoes into a sauce is simple. You’ll just need to put it in a food blender and add a little bit of water and oil. After that, the tomatoes are ready to be blitzed. If you’re buying a canned one, you won’t even need to do this.
The flavor of San Marzano tomato sauce is a lot sweeter than other tomatoes. However, you still get that tasty tang that other tomatoes have. And because of the soil that they are grown in, the flavor is a lot more intense.
Nutrition from San Marzano tomatoes
San Marzano tomatoes retain the usual health benefits that an ordinary tomato has. However, you can consider this tomato as a super fruit since it gives you more health benefits than ordinary round ones.
One of the best benefits that you can get from these pointed tomatoes is its cancer-fighting properties. There have been several studies that show the cancer-fighting properties of San Marzano tomatoes when consumed regularly.
The subjects of these studies were men, and it showed that the consumption of these tomatoes can, in fact, fight prostate cancer.
What to Know Before Gardening San Marzano Tomatoes
Before we head onto the steps of gardening these delicious tomatoes, you should know several things first. San Marzano tomatoes require specific conditions in order to thrive. You’ll need to know the appropriate climate, the water and sunlight conditions, and more importantly, the soil condition.
Climate and Watering conditions
Since San Marzano tomatoes were first bred in Italy, it enjoys a mediterranean climate. These tomatoes prefer a warm climate with a lot of sunlight exposure. With that said, planting the San Marzano tomato requires proper timing and strategy.
The plant should be placed somewhere with tons of sunlight exposure. Meanwhile, when it comes to watering this plant, moderation is key. The San Marzano does not need a lot of water, so water it moderately but at the same time don’t let it dry out too much.
Meanwhile, when it comes to the soil, San Marzano needs the condition to be similar with volcanic soil.
One of the main elements that a volcanic soil has is that it’s full of organic matter. Because volcanos spew ashes and lava during eruption, the molten rock soon hardens and gives the soil more organic nutrients.
To imitate this, you can put compost, humus, or even manure in the soil. This decomposes inside the soil which benefits your tomatoes. Moreover, tomatoes love nitrogen.
Nitrogen causes your plum tomatoes to grow fast and big. So if you’re looking to add nitrogen to the soil, adding compost with coffee beans is another good trick to do.
For the pH level of the soil, San Marzano tomatoes should go around the 6.8 mark. Tomatoes generally do well on acidic soil that ranges around 6.0-6.8, so be sure to use a soil pH tester before planting your soil.
Methods in Growing San Marzano Tomatoes
There are different ways to grow tomatoes. Be it in pots, your lawn, or even by a bush in your backyard. Before you plant your San Marzano seeds, be sure to know which is the optimal choice for you.
For growing San Marzano tomatoes in pots, you can do it indoors. Be sure to know the last frost date in your area. It’s important to plant San Marzano seeds six to eight weeks prior to this date.
San Marzano tomatoes are larger than the usual. Hence, you’ll need to get yourself a big enough container or pot to cater to the plant’s growth. If you don’t have bigger pots, you can still use standard ones. However, you’ll need to rehydrate and fertilize the soil more often than usual.
The method involving backyard planting is that you’ll need to pick a spot that has a lot of sun shedding on the soil. Although tomatoes love to bask in the sun, try to avoid uberly hot areas where there are strong exposures to sunlight.
The first thing to do is to till up the soil. Afterwards, add the compost or manure that we talked about earlier. Coffee beans would do well for added nitrogen.
When you’re planting the seedlings, make sure the soil is not watery but at the same time not dry. The San Marzano tomatoes usually require 40 inches of space from each other.
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES
There are plenty of advantages and minimal disadvantages when it comes to the methods you choose. There’s really no wrong method, the key here isto to choose the best method for your needs.
For example, planting San Marzano on pots and containers gives you more control on the environment where your tomatoes grow in. When you use containers or pots, you can monitor the soil, fertilizer, lighting, and many more.
The downside here is that you’ll have a harder time if you want to harvest a lot of San Marzano tomatoes. For example, if you’re an Italian restaurant owner who’s looking to have his own produce, planting the tomatoes in pots will not suit you well.
That goes the other way when you plant it outside in your garden. Planting San Marzano outside means more harvests, but little control. Your soil does not have borders unlike potted soil, so there’s more chance of pests and other elements interfering.
If you’re just a homeowner who’s looking to cook San Marzano tomatoes once in awhile, it’s highly recommended that you plant the tomatoes in pots and containers. Moreover, it’s a lot easier to do if you’re a beginner in gardening.
What You’ll Need
You can further check on the other types, but for now, we recommend the hybrid San Marzano because it takes less time to ripen while also giving you a bigger harvest in terms of size.
How to Grow San Marzano Tomatoes
When growing these fruits, it’s important to understand that there are several areas that you should focus on.Basically, these areas are seed germination, plant health care, harvesting, and preservation. These are the vital steps that you must address properly for big and healthy San Marzano tomatoes!
Step 1: Prepare the soil
We’ve reiterated in this article that soil is integral in meeting the demands of San Marzano tomatoes. Hence, you must immediately create a suitable soil condition for your seeds.
Get yourself a small bucket and fill it up with sufficient potting soil. Add the necessary organic materials that we mentioned earlier such as coffee beans and compost. After that, get a gardening hose and slowly add water until the soil is moist.
Stir the soil properly until you get a good consistency. A welltextured soil should have the right dampness but is free from any soggy texture.
Step 2: Fill up your trays
For this, you’ll need to get yourself a good seeding tray that’s at least 36 cells. Place the soil mixture that you made earlier and flatten it on the tray. A good trick here is to place the second tray on top and gently push it down against the soil. This gives you a compact and evenly leveled soil. Be sure to leave at least a quarter of an inch worth of space in each cell.
Step 3: Start planting
At the center of each of the cells, plant the San Marzano tomato seeds carefully. Afterwards, cover the seeds with a quarter of the soil. Get a water bottle or sprayer and spray the soil with water. This will help moisten the top of the soil.
Add a plastic cover afterwards and let it rest. After this, you should monitor the soil every now and then if it’s losing moisture. If it does lose moisture, then get the sprayer again and apply water to hydrate it.
Step 4: Use a heating mat
Use a heating mat to give your tomato seeds the right temperature to thrive on. For your San Marzano seeds, it’s optimal to have a temperature of at least 27 degrees celsius. So if your room temperature is colder than this, bring it down using a heating mat.
To use this, just expose the mat for at least 6 hours in direct sunlight. Do this daily and make sure the setting is at the correct temperature. Once you’ve done this, put the tray on the heating mat.
Step 5: Transplant the tomatoes
After 7 to 10 days, you should see the seeds germinating from the tray. Once you see leaves sprouting out, you can now transfer the plant in your pots. When doing this, fill the pot with a third of potting soil. Make sure your pots don’t go smaller than four inches in diameter.
To dislodge your plants, just push the bottom of the cells and that should be enough. Transfer the plants to the center of the pot and cover it with soil. Gently pat the soil to make it more compact and fill it up with water not more than twice.
Plant Care and Disease Prevention
For plant care and disease prevention, you’ll need to focus more on the fertilizer that you use as well as the conditions of the soil.
Step 1: Watering your plant correctly
Many gardeners don’t know the fundamentals of watering. For your San Marzano, it’s important to not overwater the plants. A good trick here is to monitor the top-most layer of the soil in the pot. If it’s dry and a little grainy in texture, sprinkle some water slowly.
It’s good to use a sprinkler here because using items like a water scooper or any item with a large opening can wash your soil away and ruin your plant. A good trick to do here is to apply a dripping system. This will ensure proper water distribution even during hot days.
Step 2: Using fertilizer
To use the correct fertilizer, you should have a mixture of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium at 10 a piece. The fertilizer should be water soluble and must be applied every 7 days or so.
Remember, for every tablespoon of fertilizer you should have one gallon of water.
Step 3: Pruning your plants
Your San Marzano tomatoes will have side shots as it continues to grow. To properly care for the plant, you’ll need to prune these. Just use the standard method of pruning plants by cutting ill and broken stems. Don’t try to prune your plant too much.
Step 4: Protecting it from pests and diseases
The good news here is that your San Marzano tomatoes are robust plants. They can endure a little challenge from bugs and pests, so try to be patient and don’t hit the emergency button by using chemicals.
Try to avoid chemicals as much as possible. Moreover, you can stick to other options against pests by using hot water to kill bugs or using sticky strips to trap them!
Harvest and Preservation
For plant care and disease prevention, you’ll need to focus more on the fertilizer that you use as well as the conditions of the soil.
Step 1: Pick your tomatoes
When you see your San Marzano big and plump, but still a little green and yellowish in color, you can already harvest them. Take note that tomatoes, in general, continue to ripen even after picked like most fruits. However, you can also wait for the tomato to fully ripen before harvesting.
Gently twist the stem connecting to the tomato and dislodge it. If you’re having a hard time, you can use clippers as an alternative. If you harvested your tomatoes a little too early, a good tip is to store them in a paper bag and let it ripen over the next few days.
Step 2: Storing and Preserving
Unlike store-bought tomatoes, your freshly harvested ones will work better when storing it on your kitchen’s countertop. Storing your tomatoes in a refrigerator may cause it to lose flavor that you want out of your San Marzano.
However, if you’re not going to use them for the next few days, then putting it inside a chiller with a temperature higher than your fridge would work just fine.
Step 3: Know the methods of preserving
If you’ve harvested a lot of tomatoes, you can try different methods of preservation. These include pickling, canning, and freezing. All of these have their yummy perks that you should definitely try if you have extra San Marzano tomatoes in your cupboard!
Wrapping it Up
In a nutshell, San Marzano tomatoes are delicious fruits that pack a lot of flavor for your kitchen. It has health benefits, and is really easy to garden. The best part here is that you don’t need to be a novice in order to grow it properly.
All you need is to just follow the steps and carefully monitor your plant’s condition. Once you’ve germinated your tomato seed, just use the tips and tricks that you’ve learned in order to harvest fresh and delicious San Marzano tomatoes!
Did you like this article? If you found it informative, comment below, share, and let us know! Happy gardening!