The Great
San Marzano Tomato
Experiment

Trials for the best Tomato Fertilizer,
Soil and Cultural Methods

Growing tomatoes can be fraught with pitfalls and problems.

For a plant that originated in the high mountains of South America, they’re surprisingly fragile.

They can’t take any frost at all, and sometimes, even with what you think are the perfect growing conditions, they still don’t seem to thrive and produce those luscious red fruits over the late summer and into fall.

The Great San Marzano Tomato Experiment

I’ve attempted many different ways to get my tomatoes to bloom early, set prolific fruit and ripen in time to get a harvest.

This year I decided to do an experiment to determine which type of tomato fertilizer would work the best for my requirements, and attempt to figure out what is the best soil.

In the past, I’ve avoided using any kind of high nitrogen fertilizer, thinking that it would simply encourage the plant to have really green floppy growth, and not produce the fruit until later when it runs out of nitrogen.

However, I may be barking up the wrong tree with this line of thinking.

Here’s what I’m trying this year; welcome to the Great San Marzano Tomato Experiment!

A friend very kindly gave me several tomato plants that she had grown from seed; mostly heirloom types, such as Amana Orange, Cherokee Purple and Charlie Chaplin, included in the batch were several San Marzano plants.

These are a paste tomato, valued for their plump but dryish flesh, and not a lot of juice.

To make tomato paste, Italian cooks prize these types of tomatoes because they don’t require a lot of cooking to get rid of the extra moisture that is common in other salad or table tomatoes.

I like them fine for Greek salads, chopped and mixed into pasta, or sliced on sandwiches or burgers.

The lack of juice simply allows the full flavor of this great variety to shine through.

Follow along as I fumble and stumble through the minefield of tomato culture...

Below you'll see my posts about this experiment...maybe you'll find it useful.

Ripening Green Tomatoes 
As you might be able to tell from the title, none of my experimental tomatoes got ripe on the vine. However, I did get a few tomatoes that reached close …

and then there were fruit! 
Mid August, and it's been dry and hot for what seems like weeks - oh, wait; it has been weeks. Between trying to keep everything watered and happily drenched …

July Update - No Tomatoes Yet 
With the soggiest June on record, it's surprising that the tomato plants haven't just turned to mush and rotted. Due to the rain, and a huge influx …

They're blooming! 
It's been a while, but the three plants have grown incredibly. They all seem happy in their various soil types, and two of them are showing flowers …

The Great San Marzano Tomato Experiment - the soil 
I'm trying to figure out what kind of soil and fertilizing system works the best for growing paste tomatoes in containers. I've grown many other types, …


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