I try to plant at least one new thing every year in my flower and veggie/herb gardens. Over the past few years, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite vegetables. As I continue to try new things, this list is subject to change. Most of my favorite veggies are not necessarily the “standard” varieties. Some are a little less traditional, and you may prefer another variety. It’s all about “customizing” your garden to your tastes.
Here Are My Favorite Vegetables
Hands down, my favorite slicing tomato is an heirloom variety called Cherokee Purple. Cherokee Purple is a burgundy fruited tomato with a rich, complex, almost smoky flavor. It’s a semi-beefsteak type with fruits averaging ½ to ¾ pounds each.
My favorite cherry type is a variety called Sun Sugar (this is a sister seedling of an old favorite called Sun Gold—the flavor is pretty much the same). It has an intense, almost citrusy flavor. These rarely make it into the house because I tend to grab a handful whenever I go into the backyard. I’ll always plant one Early Girl—still trying for that first tomato on the Fourth of July.
Other good ones I’ve tried: German Johnson is an heirloom variety with a rich flavor and one-pound fruits. Another good Heirloom is Hillbilly—a mild sweet tomato with one to two-pound fruits.
I prefer vining cucumbers over bush types because you can trellis them up and grow four times as many cukes in the same space as one “bush” type cucumber. Keeping the leaves up in the air, rather than sprawling all over the ground, minimizes the risk of powdery mildew too.
My favorite is a variety of cucumbers available from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. It’s called Suyo Long and is a burpless cucumber with thin, tender skin (no peeling necessary) that grows 12 to 15 inches long. It has a cool, mild flavor and is suitable for fresh eating and pickling. Another fun one is the Armenian cucumber. But you can’t beat a good ol’ Straight Eight or Marketmore—vigorous and good producers.
My favorite has always been Patty Pan squash. These have scalloped edges that look a little like flying saucers. They tend to be a little more buttery in flavor than other squash. However, you can’t go wrong with a traditional yellow crook or straight-neck squash. They are always reliable and prolific, with good flavor and texture. And Black Beauty zucchini is another flavorful stand-by—and so productive. Maybe I’ll write another blog on what to do with an abundance of zukes.
I’ll state categorically that I am NOT a hot pepper fan. However, one of my favorite peppers is the Poblano. It’s a MILDLY hot pepper that is tough, durable, and a good producer. If you’ve ever gone out for Mexican food and had a Chile Rellenos, you’ve had a Poblano. Keeping it well-watered during dry spells will help tamp the heat level down even more.
I grow California Wonders, Better Bells, and Keystone Giants for regular sweet peppers. They are all good producers with nice-sized green peppers that ripen to red if you leave them on the plant long enough.
A newer variety called Sweet Heat has the same mild heat level as a Poblano but is sweeter in flavor and contains more than twice the vitamin C of other peppers (which already have good amounts of vitamin C). On the other hand, a sweet banana pepper is excellent for snacking. They usually get eaten in the yard.
I don’t have a favorite green bean—they’re all good. I tend to plant Contender or Blue Lake bush beans because they produce two to three weeks sooner than Kentucky Wonder or Blue Lake pole beans, and I’ll admit—I’m a little impatient. I’ve also planted purple or yellow podded beans because the colored pods are so much easier to find in the garden!
I don’t have room to grow space-intensive crops like corn, pumpkins, or melons, so I leave those to the experienced farmers at our Farmers Market here at the Great Big Greenhouse (every Thursday from 10 until 2).
I would never have discovered some of these fun and unusual varieties had I not dared to try something new and different. Do the same, and you’ll find your favorites as I did!
Get Your Veggie Seeds Now at the Great Big Greenhouse!
We have a great selection of veggie seeds at the Great Big Greenhouse. Stop by and get yours now. We’ve consistently sold out of veggie seeds over the past couple of years, so please don’t wait. Stop by now for your seeds and professional advice about your growing situation.