August 20, 2012

2012 Garden Journal: my opinion of the sophies choice tomato

I think it's safe to share my thoughts on the growing adventures of the Sophie's Choice tomato... a heirloom, determinate tomato that produces a sizable orange - red fruit, whose characteristic would do well with cooler climates. The plants are some what short and stocky, averaging about eighteen inches to twenty four inches in growth. While some of our plants reached about two and half feet in height, a few barely topped out to two feet, most of them did stay close to the stated height.

One of the reasons we chose the Sophie's Choice tomato was because it is considered an early tomato, ready for harvest in about fifty five days... and our growing season is short to say the least, with varying extremes through out the season.

The Planting: we started out with twenty six seedlings sown, and when the time was right we planted twenty four plants early and we managed to keep the whole twenty four alive through the weather extremes and flea beetles. Sophie's Choice doesn't enjoy extreme heat or drought... yeah... and this is the year we have had both most of the season, but I planted them using the straw bale method, which later became a great mulch as the season progressed.

The Growing: because of the extreme heat, our tomatoes did require a lot of water... remember they are not to fond of extreme heat or drought... however because of the straw mulch I really believe I didn't have to water as much as some urban gardeners. On average two times a week, sometimes three - although they seem to have done well... the extra watering made these some the most expensive tomatoes I have grown to date.

The Challenges: I mentioned the flea beetles, and the heat already. So outside of five tomato plants competing with a choke cherry tree for nutrients and a couple of fruits with some blossom end rot, there were not too many challenges. Really, these ladies don't need 'sucker removal' and my tying was minimal. Most of my energy was used in the early part of the season... the rest was maintenance and waiting.

The Harvesting: early tomato, I am not so sure. So far more have ripened off the plant than on, because the lack patience on my part, but honestly we are just now getting orange ones on the vine. I think that may be due to the interesting growing season we are all experiencing. The vines are [were] loaded with fruits of all sizes, making the harvest respectable, if I were growing these for all year tomato preservation I would have doubled or tripled the number of plants.

Final Thoughts: they taste great, are large enough for hamburgers and canning, take up little space and are a hardy little tomato plant, perfect for container gardening. A keeper!

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