Recommended Vegetable Varieties
Recommended vegetable varieties can be a very personal thing. Everyone has their favourites but maybe they haven’t tried too many others?
To my mind there is every reason to try newer modern varieties and that’s why I thought I’d share my recommended vegetable varieties here.
A New Year – a new garden year
So it’s the start of another year and my thoughts turn to buying seeds again.
I’m particularly pleased with my parsnips and sprouts this winter! And this emphasizes the importance of choosing the right variety to grow.
January is a great month to spend time making decisions on which varieties are likely to perform best for you.
I’m not particularly interested in producing giant veg or even vegetables for the show bench. I’m not especially interested in growing heritage varieties unless they beat modern ones.
However I am interested in selecting the most reliable and trouble free variety that suits my plot and, just as importantly, the best variety for the kitchen!
Old isn’t always best
We all have our favourites but chatting to other gardeners I am surprised how frequently they are still growing really old varieties. And varieties that have long since been superseded by others.
Take for instance ‘Moneymaker’ tomato or ‘Arran Pilot’ potato. These are still big sellers and yet I would not personally rate either as being the best variety to grow.
But that word personally is the important word!
If that’s the variety that works for you, who am I to say otherwise!
Grow these if you must but do try some of the more recently introduced varieties alongside them. You may just find they out-yield these really old varieties. And frequently they are less prone to pests and diseases.
There are masses of modern varieties to try but some of those that you may care to try are as follows.
The big pest with carrots is carrot root fly. It produces little maggots that burrow into the roots and wrecks them!
You can avoid the worst attack by sowing early or late in the season. You can avoid it too by protecting your plants with an insect proof barrier.
But there are a couple of varieties that show good natural pest resistance. What is more they can produce good tasty carrots too. These are appropriately called ‘F1 Resistafly’ and ‘F1 Flyaway’.
Although not necessarily root fly resistant, I do rate ‘Berlicum’ carrots as a main crop variety.
Well you would think that one variety is much like another but I have found ‘F1 Defender’ and Midnight F1 to be superior to most others.
If you don’t mind the colour then the yellow fruited ‘F1 Atena’ is exceptionally good too!
I’ve found that all these continue cropping long after better known varieties have stopped.
They have better resistance or perhaps tolerance to powdery mildew which curtails the useful life of most courgette plants.
Most gardeners are probably already growing ‘Boltardy’ which is very hard to beat.
It shows strong resistance to ‘bolting’ – that is putting all its energy into growing flowers rather than a tasty round root.
But how about growing the sweet rooted and chef’s favourite ‘Choggia’? When sliced this variety is sweet tasting and has alternate rings that are red and white and look very appetizing on the plate!
Beetroot need to be grown fast otherwise they get rather woody.
Unless you’re wanting to grow for the show bench then I would not worry too much about thinning your seedlings out so that each is several inches apart. Most beetroot seeds are actually clusters of several seeds so you’re likely to get a clump of plants together.
These can be rather hard to get started. Germination is slow.
They need to be sown early in the year. This is when soil temperatures are still low. As a consequence the successful germination percentage can be pitiful.
I find that it pays to wait until you see the first weed seeds coming up before sowing! That’s an indication that the soil is warm enough! Of course you could warm the soil before sowing by covering it with a sheet of clear polythene or cloches.
Another tip I can share is that you can chit the seed by sowing them on wet kitchen paper in your home. Once the seeds are showing a tiny radicle* you then sow them outside. [* that’s the root]
‘F1 Albion’ has always grown well for me and produces roots that have very small central cores. It also has a high resistance to canker disease.
We all have our favourite bean variety but many of those can be bettered as trials by the RHS have shown.
I especially like the hybrid [between French and Runner] called ‘Moonlight’. This white flowered form ‘sets’ pods from the start. It keeps on producing virtually string-less pods right through summer. I suspect the white flowers also make it less attractive to birds?
‘St George’, with patriotic red and white flowers, is another good one.
‘Lady Di’, an improved ‘Enorma’ strain, is excellent too!
Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Kale
This vegetable is such a useful gap filling veg! It produces a late winter crop when so much else is finished.
I have found ‘F1 Claret’ to be superior to the regular sorts.
Not new, but the closely related borecole kale ‘Nero de Toscana’ has recently become very popular and has an exceptionally long harvest period.
Here’s a vegetable that has seen little new variety improvement and good old ‘Musselburgh’ is still hard to beat.
Perhaps readers know otherwise and will fill my inbox with varieties that they think are better!
A variety that is resistant to the increasing threat of leek moth would be especially welcome!
Slow to grow, sprouts need a very long growing season.
As a consequence they tie up the plot for many months without providing anything for the table. So after all that wait you want to be sure that you’re growing the best varieties!
I wouldn’t be without them because they crop right through the winter.
Modern varieties are much more uniform and generally produce denser and sweeter tasting sprouts. However the down side is that they can’t be picked over such a long period.
I find that ‘Trafalgar’ does well for me but that ‘F1 Revenge’ might be a good late one to grow.
If you have the dreaded soil-borne club root disease on your plot then the resistant ‘F1 Crispus’ is worth growing as it has resistance.
There are masses of cabbage varieties and it is very difficult to select the very best.
‘Celtic’ has won the RHS Award of Garden Merit which is always a good sign. It’s really hardy and holds well without splitting.
For the late winter spring cabbage I would go for ‘F1 Spring Hero’ as it’s so much more consistent than the old varieties.
Again, if club root is present then try ‘F1 Killaton’ but also make certain the soil is well limed.
Modern varieties have made huge advances! We now have varieties that crop well in our shorter summers. These also taste far superior to the old types.
I grow ‘F1 Swift’ or ‘F1 Goldcrest’ but ‘F1 Prelude’ and ‘F1 Sundance’ have also done well for me.
Give those newer varieties a try this year. Get out there and choose now whilst the seed racks are still full.
Take a serious look at my recommended vegetable varieties!
Heritage strains are important and have their place but to get the best results on your plot and on your table I think that you should try newer varieties.
You may find it hard to ‘let go’ of the old varieties that you’ve grown for generations but there comes a time when new, easier to grow varieties really are better!
Sources of seeds
What varieties do you rate highly?
At this time of the year you should be thinking of getting early potatoes started. Read all about it here.
I’ve also written a blog on potato varieties here.
And whilst I haven’t covered tomato varieties here I have covered it in this blog here!
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