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Summer 2007 Organic Vegetable
Variety Trial Winners

Once again this year, I've tried a few new varieties of vegetables in my garden here at Blue Horizon Farm. I've also grown many of my old favorites, which are varieties that almost never let me down. I'd like to share them with you because growing good plant varieties can make the difference between having a complete dud of a garden and having an excellent, enjoyable one.

Here's a list of what's growing the very best in my organic vegetable garden this year. I'm in central North Carolina, so keep in mind that what does well at my place may not be suited to other regions of the country. That being said, many plant varieties nowadays are hardy and adaptable enough to grow well in most climate and soil conditions.

There are many other herbs, flowers and vegetables growing in my garden this year but the ones listed below are those that are doing the heavy lifting this year: they are keeping me and my family well fed (some would say overly so).

Garlic- California Early is a prolific, easy to grow softneck garlic. It produces bulbs that will please just about anyone, even those who are die-hard garlic lovers. California Early also happens to be very widely grown by commercial growers, so much of the garlic available in grocery stores is of this variety. This is the third year that I have grown it, and I have successfully saved my own seed garlic for the past two years.

After reading Chester Aaron's book Garlic is Life, I decided to try one of his favorite varieties of garlic, Red Toch. It was a success, and made healthy, flavorful bulbs for me, even in this warm and humid climate.

Tomatoes- Sun Gold is my favorite tomato. It is a great-tasting cherry tomato that has a sweet, fruit-like taste. Anything a "normal" tomato can do, they can do better: sauces, shish kabobs and salads all become ridiculously delicious when they have Sungolds in them.

Tomande is a new variety for me this year. I was looking for a disease-resistant slicing tomato and I found a good one in Tomande. The flavor is excellent, superior even to most of the heirloom tomatoes that I've tried. The fruits are beautiful (although not consistent or uniform in their size or their roundness) and have a very good tomato flavor without an excess of tanginess or acidity.

Peppers-- Feherazon is a paprika pepper and therefore meant to be dried and ground into that tasty seasoning. However, they are so prolific and they fruits are so insect and sunscald resistant (They have very thick walls) that they have become my primary eating pepper and I haven't dried a single one. Their flavor isn't quite as sweet or nuanced as some of the other peppers that I grow, but dependability trumps taste in the pepper category this year. When I needed enough peppers to make four gallons of salsa in one fell swoop, the Feherazons were loaded with fruit, while the other varieties of peppers in my garden wouldn't even have had enough to get me through the first gallon!

Onions-- Candy onions are sweet and easy to grow. I even got away with growing them is a slightly shady (80% sun), relatively moist area of my garden. They had no rot at all and, without exception, each plant developed into a large, delicious onion.

Potatoes--Banana potatoes are a fingerling potato that has become my favorite. They are small and relatively "waxy" (as opposed to fluffy like russet potatoes) and I enjoy them immensely in stews, hash browns or baked as oven fries.

Eggplant--I have had good luck with eggplants this year. Burpee Hybrid leads the pack in the eggplant department, its abundant, glossy fruits keeping me stuffed with grilled eggplant and eggplant Parmesan this summer.

I hope that you find this list of my summer veggie superstars useful. Enjoy!

Digg! digg it

Tammy Biondi has been growing organic produce for over 10 years. Besides running Blue Horizon Farm, Tammy teaches about sustainable farming at the Central Carolina Community College. She also is a successful freelance writer, focusing on agricultural topics. Contact her at tammy@bluehorizonfarm.com.