Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > March 2015 > BONNIE'S GARDEN--These are a few of my favorite things....

BONNIE'S GARDEN--These are a few of my favorite things....

Every single season, I get asked what are my favorite varieties of vegetables to grow.  So I finally decided to commit to paper, my “go to” varieties.

Tomatoes.  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 Gold.  You can sometimes find a sister of this variety called Sun Sugar.  The flavor is pretty much the same.  It has an intense almost citrusy flavor.  This is the one that almost never makes it into the house because I tend to grab a handful every time I go into the back yard.  And I always plant one Better Boy.  It’s a reliable disease resistant red slicer.  Still, you are likely to find a Black Krim, Mortgage Lifter, or Beefsteak in my yard, as well.
Cucumbers.  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.  My personal favorite is a variety of cucumber 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” long.  It has a cool mild flavor and is good for both fresh eating and for pickling.  But you also can’t beat a good ol’ Straight Eight—vigorous and a good producer or any one of the "burpless" varieties on the market.
Summer Squash.  My favorite has always been Patty Pan squash.  These are the ones with 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 straightneck squash.  They are always reliable, prolific, with good flavor and texture.  And Black Beauty zucchini is another flavorful stand-by.
Peppers.  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.  For a regular sweet pepper, I grow California Wonders, Better Belles, and Keystone Giants .  They are all good producers with nice sized green peppers that ripen to red if you leave them on the plant long enough.
Green Beans.  I tend to prefer bush beans over pole beans because they produce several weeks sooner than pole beans.  I’ve tried several varieties of bush beans and have had great results with all of them.  There are packages of a mix of green, yellow and purple beans.  These are fun and delicious.  That said, there is a pole bean which I do plant--Scarlet Emperor aka Scarlet Runner Bean.  This bean has beautiful showy red flowers.  It's pretty enough that the edible green beans are almost a bonus.
Eggplant.  I tend to like the Japanese eggplants like Long Purple and Ichiban.  They are a little milder and more delicate in flavor than regular eggplant, though there is certainly nothing wrong with a nice Black Beauty.

So these are my favorite varieties.  They may or may not be yours.  I found these varieties which work for me by stepping out of my comfort zone and deciding to try a variety I’d never tried before.  There are hundreds of tomato varieties out there.  You may prefer a Lemon Boy, or a Big Beef, or a Black Krim or a Mortgage Lifter.  There are lots of cucumbers to choose between—Straight Eights, Marketmores, Armenian, even a cute little round yellow one called Lemon.   And there are dozens and dozens of squash varieties to choose from—from Baby Round zucchini (a great one for stuffing) to striped and speckled varieties.

Challenge yourself to try one new variety every year and you’ll find your favorites, too.
Posted: 3/30/2015 by Bonnie Pega | with 0 comment(s)
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