The best variety of popular Summer vegetables
October 6, 2017
Have you browsed a seed catalogue and wondered how to best select the seed most suited to your garden and growing circumstance?
With hundreds of varieties of tomatoes available it is daunting for any gardener, new or experienced, to choose the best one to grow.
Over the past five years I have been trying different varieties and recording their results, keeping track of those I most like to grow. The Summer plants listed below are those I like to grow every year and they are plants grown in Summer vegetable gardens around Australia.
I have collated this information to help you think about your plant selection. It can take a little time to work out the right ones for you. My suggestions are a good starting point. Determine the best varieties for your own growing space by beginning to create a record of the plant varieties you add to the garden and the results you achieve.
It is a valuable exercise because you will find that some varieties will grow well for you and some will fail. You will find you don’t like the flavour, size, or the volume you harvest from one variety. Another may be prone to splitting in your climate, pest attack or other issues.
Before I list the varieties and talk about each one I would like to firstly cover a few key points.
Let’s get started:
My favourite variety of bean is Blue Lake. It is a bush bean that I grow on a frame. It is a prolific producer and the beans are suited to freezing. I love this about this variety as it allows me to store beans for many months after the plants have been removed for use in winter slow cooking.
Capsicum are slow to get started when growing from seed. Established seedlings may be a simpler option for new gardeners. This plant variety is a rare heirloom and I love it for that and the gorgeous sweet fruit it produces.
Find my growing notes for capsicum here. Note: if you plant chilli plants nearby they can cross-pollinate with capsicum turning the fruit from sweet to spicy. Be warned.
I have tried many varieties of corn, including a colourful heirloom variety only suited to popping, not eating fresh, which I did not realise at the time I planted it. It was not a wise plant selection for me as it takes up a decent amount of garden space and water and I didn’t get to eat it after harvest. True Gold produces a couple of cobs, and up to three per plant. The cobs are sweet. I like to also grow another heirloom seed called Golden Bantam. Freshly picked and eaten corn has to experienced but do note that it takes up quite a bit of space for a small volume harvest. It also needs a lot of water so is not suited to areas with poor water availability in summer, or those where you have to choose your most reliable and favourite plants to grow for the season that you are willing to allocate water to.
This variety can not be beaten as far as I am concerned. I grow it year after year. I have had no problems with mold developing on the plant and it is SUPER productive. It needs a trellis to grow on. Protect from snails early in the season.
Find my tips to successfully grow cucumber here.
Similar to capsicum, eggplant take a long time to grow from seed and new gardeners may prefer to look out for seedlings. Once it is started and in the garden it is very productive. I have tried many eggplant varieties and this one is a stand out when it comes to reliable harvests, and fruit that is not bitter.
My tips to grow eggplants can be found here.
I could be swayed on this one. I have grown at least 5 varieties but would like to try some more. The one that I prefer out of all I have grown is Buttercup and one I have labelled as “Grey”. I save the seed from the Grey each year and replant it the following year. It produces 3-5 fruit per plant that are a wonderful size and it stores well. From memory, it is originally from a pumpkin I purchased a number of years ago from an organic farmer at a farmers market. Pumpkin from 3 -4 plants provide us with a year’s worth to use in family meals. Most plants produce between 3-6 pumpkin. Click the link for my guide to growing pumpkins.
I grow approximately 30 tomato plants per year choosing the varieties for different purposes that suit our family. I have a preferred cherry variety, medium sized fruit, large fruit and one for pastes, sauces and drying. These are the ones I plant each year.
Cherry varieties: Golden Nugget and Tommy Toe
Medium sized fruit: Legend
Large fruit: Golden Jubilee and Rouge de Marmande
Sauce and drying: Principe Borghese and Roma San Mazano
For many years I also grew a french variety called Jaune Flamme but the flavour became diluted and weak the past couple of years so I will not add it this year.
My preference is to keep tomatoes neat in the garden, without the use of stakes preferably. I like to grow them on strings. You can read how I do that in this post.
Note: last year my plants were almost exclusively grown from seedlings that self-seeded in the garden. While the plants are small in size I remove them from where they have popped up and space them out in the positions I want them to grow for the season. Many cross-pollinated and new breeds resulted that were not necessarily as good as the original varieties. I am sure this is what happened to the Jaune Flamme. This year I will let some of the self seeded plants stay in the garden as they are robust and the ones that will provide the first fruit of the season. I also like to ensure I have the varieties we most enjoy planted along side them so will add those listed above.
The most reliable zucchini varieties I grow each year are Costata Romanesco and Black Beauty. Black Beauty is very productive and easy to grow. Costata Romanesco has a finer shape and tends to not blow out as easily to the massive gourd size of left unchecked for a few days. It is wonderful both raw and cooked.
Strangely I have not written a post on growing zucchini so keep an eye out as I will do that very soon.
Once you determine the varieties that grow best in your space you need to work out how many of each to grow for your family. What is the right number of plants to grow to suit your family menu, lifestyle and appetite for that vegetable so that you avoid a glut, and scant harvests? I wrote this post a while ago to outline the number of plants I recommend growing for a young family of 4. You can find it here
One more BUT : sometimes a variety is suitable for your growing space but it may be the timing, or the season’s weather conditions that cause it to fail one season. If there is a variety you really want to grow, give it another chance and use your planting notes to modify the planting time, the companions around it, and the care you gave it.
Some years you may not be able to source your favourite variety of seed. It is for this reason that it is good to grow at least two varieties of the plants you most enjoy eating.
The best way to determine how a variety performs in your space is to make a record of your planting, the variety and the performance, just as I have to arrive at this list. Knowing how different plants perform in your space is key to your gardening success. I have created a Workbook for new gardeners, or those wanting to improve their current growing space. The Vegetable Garden Work book contains the practical information you need to set up and begin your gardening, including information on how to select the right plants to grow. It features an easy to use seasonal journal to record your progress.
By setting up your garden area correctly and then making an informed decision about the plants and recording the results you will gain a clear understanding of your garden, leading to great results.
The Vegetable Garden Workbook is available for immediate download so you can get started now.
Do you plant the same varieties of your favourite vegetables each year? Use the comments below to share what they are and the state of Australia you live.
Stay up to date with the latest by following Kyrstie on social media.