The Speckled Roman Tomato is a cross between Antique Roman and Banana Legs tomato varieties developed by seed saver John Swenson.
It’s a very unique, versitile tomato with lots of different uses, making it a favorite of tomato growers across the board. Keep reading to learn more about what makes the Speckled Roman Tomato so special!
Looking for Speckled Roman seeds? Check availability.
About the Speckled Roman Tomato
The fruits of the Speckled Roman Tomato are bright orange-red with yellow stripes. It’s an oblong plum variety and reaches about five inches long at maturity.
It’s a hardy fruit, weighing in at roughly six ounces, and crack-resistant.
If you think the Speckled Roman Tomato is interesting to look at, wait until you try one!
Because they’re meaty and sweet, with almost no seeds and very little juice, Speckled Roman Tomatoes are excellent sauce or paste tomatoes.
Usually, sauce tomatoes are cooking tomatoes that aren’t intended to be eaten raw. However, the Speckled Romans are the exception to the rule. They have such good flavor and texture that they’re well-suited for fresh eating, too!
This versatility sets Speckled Roman Tomatoes apart from the rest of plum tomatoes.
Using Your Speckled Roman Tomatoes
Nothing captures the freshness of a tomato from the garden quite like salsa! Speckled Roman’s texture and sweetness make them the perfect base for homemade tomato salsa.
A dish requiring fresh tomatoes, like this tomato soup recipe, is a perfect way to put your Speckled Romans to use.
They’re also well suited for sauces, so this marinara sauce recipe with fresh tomatoes is another excellent way to eat your harvest.
Growing Speckled Roman Tomatoes
Speckled Roman Tomatoes are very productive plants that tolerate drought periods and high heat.
They are open-pollinated plants that require full sun. They aren’t cold-tolerant, so avoiding shaded areas and moist conditions is best.
For best results, start your Speckled Roman Tomato seeds indoors six weeks before the last frost, roughly a quarter inch deep in the soil, allowing them to germinate for one to two weeks.
Once any chance of a cold snap has passed, your seedlings are ready to be sowed! Plant them outdoors two to three feet apart to give them room to grow, or move them into pots. In roughly eighty-five days, you’ll have delicious, homegrown tomatoes.
Pruning and Support
Speckled Roman Tomatoes are of the indeterminate tomato variety, which means they are climbing plants that will ripen gradually throughout the season and require pruning (for more information, read our blog post on indeterminate vs. determinate tomatoes).
Because they’re categorized as climbing plants, Speckled Romans need some support to help them grow, either a cage or a trellis. They grow upwards, reaching up to six feet tall, so a support structure will help keep your plant straight and away from the ground. It will also give the leaves, stems, and fruit plenty of room to breathe.
They also require pruning to keep them healthy and growing efficiently. As the plant matures, prune below the first strong branch. This ensures that fruit and leaves don’t grow too close to the ground, where they’re more prone to pests and diseases.
Once the plant is fully mature, prune back any unwanted foliage. Otherwise, indeterminate varieties will keep growing and growing.
Harvesting your Tomatoes
The tomatoes will turn bright orangey-red when ripe. If you’re unsure about their ripeness, give the fruit a gentle tug. If they’re ready to go, they should pull right off. If there is any resistance, it’s probably best to leave them on the vine a bit longer.
Diseases in Water
For tomatoes, one of their biggest enemies is overly wet, humid conditions. Standing water around the plants and wet leaves and fruit that don’t have space to dry are breeding grounds for fungal diseases. Late blight and leaf spot are two of the worst tomato diseases caused by improper watering.
Late blight is a water mold disease specific to tomatoes and potatoes that infect the whole plant. A telltale sign of late blight is a graying and withering of the leaves and dark brown spots covering the fruit.
Leaf spot looks like yellow-brown spots all over the foliage and is a fungal spore.
The best way to treat late blight and leafspot is through prevention methods, such as keeping leaves dry and plants spaced out and ventilated.
Disease in Soil
Another disease that can impact your tomatoes is verticillium wilt, which looks like a v-shaped patch of brown on the edge of the leaves. Eventually, the leaves die and fall off completely.
Unlike leaf spot or late blight, verticillium wilt is a fungal infection in the soil. The optimum conditions for verticillium wilt is moist, wet soil, and they can live in that soil for up to ten years.
The best way to prevent verticillium wilt is through sanitation and crop rotation, introducing other resistant plants into the garden that won’t facilitate more fungal growth.
And finally, nematodes are tiny, parasitic worms that attack the roots of your tomato plant. A nematode infection causes the whole plant to turn yellow and wither.
To help prevent nematode infections, rotate your crops and seek out nematode-resistant varieties.
Tomatoes do well when planted with other fruits, veggies, and herbs that prefer drier soil. Another consideration is to pair tomatoes with plants resistant to any disease or pest that impacts your tomatoes.
Some great choices to plant with tomatoes are basil, garlic, squash, marigolds, asparagus, and chives.
Where to Buy Speckled Roman Tomatoes
Because they’re not grown commercially, you’re unlikely to find Speckled Roman Tomatoes in grocery stores or plant nurseries.
However, you can certainly grow them from seeds! Speckled Roman Tomato seeds are widely available online for home growers. We found seeds on Amazon.
Let’s Grow Your Own Speckled Roman Tomatoes!
Easy to grow and useful in various ways to enjoy in meals, Speckled Roman Tomatoes are a unique and colorful addition to your garden and kitchen. These striped beauties are sure to be conversation starters with guests!
For more information, growing guides, recipes, and more, visit our website’s Tomato Plants page.