Gardening Articles: Care :: Seeds & Propagation

Experts' Favorite Vegetable Varieties (page 3 of 5)

by Lynn Ocone

Jeff McCormack

Balanced between zones 6 and 7, McCormack benefits from a 195-day growing season.

Tomato: 'Persimmon' and 'Brandywine' topped McCormack's list of flavorful tomatoes. He adds that 'Ozark Pink' and 'Eva's Purple Ball' rate highly for disease resistance, uniform ripening and productivity. Both also have good flavor.

Sweet Pepper: 'Gambo', with its thick, meaty flesh, is McCormack's favorite sweet pepper: It gets sweeter as it cooks. For fresh eating, he picks the super-sweet orange-fleshed 'Corona' bell pepper. Early-maturing 'Bull Nose' ranks highly for its very thick walls, productivity and unique flavor.

Beans: 'Contender' bush green bean has, in McCormack's opinion, the right combination of flavor, disease resistance and productivity. But when it comes to canning or freezing, he prefers 'Blue Lake' bush. For planting early in the season before soil is warm, he recommends 'Black Valentine', it's less prone to rot.

Cucumber: 'Edmonson' is McCormack's top-choice. Technically a pickling variety, it's delicious eaten fresh, too. "The flavor is buttery and this variety has good resistance to disease," he said.

Onion: The multiplier 'Yellow Potato' is a fixture in McCormack's garden. "The bulbs are very dependable, and you don't have to mess with seeds or transplanting," he added. A large bulb produces 10 or so small bulbs at the soil level.

Lettuce: 'Cosmo', a romaine with broad, crumpled, crisp leaves, is McCormack's favorite. "I prefer lettuce that offers some substance to bite into. And I don't like to fuss with wimpy lettuce leaves," he adds.

Carrot: 'Nantes Half Long' is McCormack's pick. It's dependably sweet and performs well in his clay soil. He notes one drawback: The tops break off easily.

Radish: The white, elongated 'White Icicle' is tops. Flavor is mild and it handles heat better than red varieties do.

Squash: 'Early Straightneck' is favored, primarily because the fruits are easier to prepare. He harvests the lemon yellow summer squash young, 3 to 5 inches. Plants are vigorous and productive. He chooses 'Golden Bush Scallop' for its superior disease resistance. Another favorite is 'Grey Zucchini' because, as he explains, "The fruit is produced over an extended period, and the plants don't attract squash bugs as much as other varieties."

Peas: 'Wando' is best in McCormack's book because it tolerates the wide temperature swings common in spring. 'Sugar Snap' wins hands down as the best-flavored edible pod pea.

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