Saturday, February 26, 2011

This Morning's Talk

This morning's talk on raised bed gardening was a lot of fun. It is great to be in a room full of people who are all interested in gardening!

One thing we didn't get to, though, was listing specific varieties of veggies that do well here. I promised to put together a such a list for my own yard. For anyone interested in a more detailed list of tomato varieties I've tried, there is a post from last April with that information.

The list is not complete, but it is a start. I hope it is helpful!

Plants that do well in Amy’s yard:

Okra—any okra will do well (okra loves the summer heat and has few pest/disease problems). I grow Cajun Jewel because it is a dwarf variety. Plant okra seeds directly in the garden.

Lettuces—Red Sails, Tom Thumb, Marvel of Four Seasons, assorted Oak Leaf varieties, Capitan, and more have all done just fine in cool spring and fall weather. I have been growing Slobolt (less tender and tasty than most lettuces) as a later planting because it lasts longer into the warm weather. All of these are grown to pretty much full size. Susan, who gave the second part of the presentation, plants a salad mix every few weeks through the entire growing season to use as baby greens (cutting them as they get to about three inches tall). Lettuces get bitter as they mature in warmer weather; the “baby greens” strategy means she gets gourmet salad ingredients all summer long.

Peppers—bell peppers suffer from the good years/bad years syndrome. Some years they do really well and some years they don’t. As far as I can tell, all bell pepper varieties have the same problem. I still grow some bell-type peppers each year (one or two plants, usually California), just in case we have a good year. Banana peppers are very productive every year, as are jalepenos, Jimmy Nardello peppers, and ancho/poblano peppers. One I grew for the first time last year, Feherezon, did well, but I won’t know for sure that it is a reliable variety for a couple more years. I’ve grown a hybrid called Spanish Spice that has been productive and good for grilling, stuffed with that Mexican crumbling cheese.

Radishes—all radishes I’ve tried work well now (French Breakfast is my favorite), but they didn’t when I first started gardening here. It took a lot of work on the soil to get it in good enough shape. I also grow winter radishes (Muncheiner Beer is one) in the fall.

Spinach—Bloomsdale, Space, Tyee all have worked.

Cucumbers—Staight Eight, Straight Nine, Marketmore, Burpee’s Picklebush. A friend grows Lemon Cucumbers and loves them.

Broccoli—Packman is one I’ve grown, but we’ve tried others at the Plant-a-Row-for-the-Hungry garden (whatever varieties were being offered as plants at HomeDepot/Lowes/Pikes/Walmart) and they all did about the same. If growing from seed, I would choose one with a relatively short time-to-maturity (the weather goes from cool to HOT pretty fast some years).

Collards—any will do well. I usually grow one called Georgia.

Melons—this is something I’ve been working on. A whole lot of melons have been a big disappointment. Two that have been successful are Schoon’s Hardshell (cantaloupe type) and Sugar Nut (canary melon). Right now, seeds for Sugar Nut, a hybrid, are hard to find. I am in the middle of a project to de-hybridize it. When I get the line stabilized, there will be plenty of seed locally for lots of gardens.

Eggplants—any should do well. I like Casper White.

Peas—I grow dwarf types. I’ve tried a few, but so far Wando is the one that does best for me. A taller pea that is eaten in the shell, Sugar Snap, also does well. It also gives more food per foot of trellis than English peas that are eaten shelled out.

Bush Beans—my family likes Burpee Tenderpod, but it isn’t available every year. At the Plant-a-Row-for-the-Hungry garden we grow Blue Lake, and it is very productive for us. This year, I am trying Provider. I’ll be posting on my blog how it works out for me.

Beets—Detroit Dark Red

Carrots—I’m still having trouble with this crop. So far, Scarlet Nantes is at the head of the list.

Tomatoes—Rutgers (determinate), Arkansas Traveler, Better Boy, Park’s Whopper (bred for the South) have all done well for me as main-crop tomatoes. Some years, Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifter has done well, but it died in my yard for the first time a couple of years back. It had been a very wet spring. I’ve also had pretty good luck with Costoluto Genovese. For paste tomatoes, Roma and Wuhib both have been good producers. Of the two, Wuhib is my favorite. For cherry tomatoes, Sweet 100 and its variations (are they up to Sweet Million yet?) have been good. Twice now, I’ve grown a yellow pear-shaped cherry type (is that an oxymoron?) called Olivette Jaune that has been outstanding. For a “keeping” tomato (to plant at the end of June), Burpee’s Winter Red Hybrid is my favorite so far.

Swiss Chard—I grow one called Perpetual Spinach. It is more “spinach-like” than most chards. However, if you can’t find it, growing any of the others and harvesting while the leaves are still fairly small is another way to get chard leaves tender enough to eat as salad.

Squash—I usually grow Raven zucchini as my summer squash. At the Plant-a-Row-for-the-Hungry garden we grow straight-neck yellow squash. These both, as with all summer squashes, usually die from attacks by the squash vine borers in mid-summer. For winter squash, Seminole pumpkin squash is good, but it sprawls alarmingly. For a tidier winter squash, a bush butternut (which is resistant to the squash vine borers) is a good choice.

Sweet potatoes—for gardeners who don’t mind the sprawl, any will do well in Georgia. I grow Beauregard and Porto Rican. I hope to add a new variety this year.

When choosing seeds for each year’s garden, I make sure that I have enough “old reliables” to get through the season with good-enough production, but I also add some experimental varieties. Last year I grew ground cherries (another tomato-family plant, so they were in a container). They did just fine. Most years, I grow chicory of one sort or another for greens, but this year’s variety (Pan di Zucchero) is one that should head-up rather than forming a dandelion-like cluster of leaves. I have ordered a couple of new peppers and a new eggplant, too.


  1. Very nice! I have all this info for my own yard, but it's scattered on calendars and such, would make for a great rainy day project for me to put it all together!

  2. Erin, I hate to say it, but this information was scattered around, too. A lot of it was in the odd corners of my brain, but some had to be hunted up in places where I had written it down. Pulling this together on a sunny, warm, lovely day that was perfect weather for gardening worked, too. My mind was already on-topic!


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