As promised, here is a report card on how the vegetable varieties I grew in my garden this year performed. Their grades are in parentheses.
Artichoke: Green Globe - (A) This variety has more rounded heads and greener foliage. It was less productive and seemed more prone to aphids for some reason. Imperial Star - (B) It has more grayish foliage and was much more productive than Green Globe.
Basil: Italian Pesto - (A) Very prolific, grew well, very flavorful.
Beans, Bush: Fagiolo Nano - (B-) Not very productive and the beans were tougher than I care for. French Fillet - (A+) Incredibly prolific, tender and narrow beans with great flavor.
Beans, Pole: Italian Snap - (B) It wasn't this variety's fault; I had some defective germination mix that affected the germination of the bean seeds; by the time I realized what the problem was, they seeds I started later got off to a very slow start. Normally, Italian Snap is excellent, though. Scarlet Runner - (B) This bean tends to produce well later in the season; beans not as tender as I prefer. The red flowers attract hummingbirds, which is a plus. Vigorous vines.
Beets: Detroit Red - (B+) They grew and developed roots fairly quickly; good flavor.
Cabbage: Jersey Wakefield (A) - This is a tried-and-true variety for me. Develops very nice heads, good flavor. Caraflex (A) - This was new to me this year; heads were conical but larger than I was expecting; they grew and developed very quickly. Attractive plant as well.
Carrots: Purple Haze (B) - I grew this variety for the novelty of it because the roots are purple on the outside and orange on the inside. The flavor is good and the carrots are deep purple on the outer layers; be aware that the fresh carrots will leave purple dye on anything they touch, especially once you've peeled them! I noticed the foliage seemed susceptible to powdery mildew. It also wanted to bolt to seed, beginning at least a month ago. The other varieties I grew didn't have either of these problems. Starica (A) - I grew this variety last year and continue to be very impressed with them. The roots are huge and very flavorful. Tendersweet (A) - These carrots also grew beautifully and have a good flavor.
Celery: Tango (A) - I grew this variety last year and was pleased with it. This year was no exception. Very happy with the lush plants and prolific stalks. The stalks are daintier than what you'd find at the grocery store but very tasty. Easy to grow.
Chard: Pot of Gold (A) - I grew this one last year as well; the stalks are a deep mustard-yellow and very striking both on the plants and when you cook them. Peppermint Stick (A) - I know folks are going to want the source for these seeds, once they see the photo at the top! They came from Renee's Garden and are so cool-looking in the garden. They've got great chard flavor; this variety was aptly-named because the stalks definitely look like peppermint sticks! Very productive.
Cilantro: Slow Bolt (B+) - Despite its name, you really need to plant it at the right time. If you want to use it for salsa and other tomato dishes, sow the seeds directly in the garden at the first of August. That way, the leaves will be at their peak just in time for tomato-harvesting season. If you plant it earlier, like in mid-May, it will bolt to seed way before you need it!
Corn: Peaches 'n Cream (A) - Very productive, with a few ears per stalk. The corn is very flavorful.
Leeks: Bluegreen Autumn 'Porbella' (B-) - I'd never grown this variety before but got the seeds for free in a garden magazine so wanted to give them a try. They grew very slowly and now that it's harvest time (fall), the stalks aren't very large in diameter. For this region, I'd recommend 'King Richard'.
Okra: Burgundy (C) - This has pretty yellow flowers that develop into burgundy-colored okras. Not very productive plants, likely they were shocked by some of the early summer cool temperatures because they grew very slowly and the plants were stunted. A disappointment, but more due to our weather conditions than the variety. Onions: Copra (B) - For some reason this wasn't a great onion year for us. Not sure why. Copra stores for a really long time so that's a huge plus in my book. Highlander (B) - This was a new variety this year. It didn't grow as well as I'd hoped.
Parsnips: Albion (A) - I've grown this variety before. It grows huge, tasty roots. No problems.
Peppers: Sunset (A) - These guys were very prolific, with as many as 8 on a plant; they turned a beautiful red later in the season; nice flavor. Jalapeno (B) - We only had a plant or two but they didn't produce very well. Poblano (B) -We only had one plant but it didn't produce very well.
Potatoes: Yukon Gold (A) - Yukons are always reliable in the garden. They produce large tubers that are very buttery-tasting. Viking Purple (A) - This variety was recommended by a friend. The white flesh is surrounded by thin purple skin. Very productive and absolutely delicious!
Pumpkins: New England Pie (A++) - Wow! Despite growing in a small bed, the vines really put out this year. I ended up with about 26 pumpkins. They are perfect for making pies and other baked goodies. Good flavor, easy to grow.
Salad greens: Sylvetta Arugula (B+) - I discovered this will easily bolt unless you grow it in cool weather so time your plantings accordingly. Very prolific, flavorful leaves. Red Sails (A++) - This is a perennial favorite with us. Great flavor and texture. Very slow to bolt in hot weather. Pretty in salads. Patty's Choice Bibb (A) - Very prolific, tasty leaves with lots of crunch. Outredgeous Romaine (A) - Pretty leaves, slow to bolt in hot weather.
Squash, Summer: Crostata Romanesco (B+) - Grew fairly well, nice flavor, could have been more productive but that might have been related to a problem we were experiencing along the eastern edge of our garden.
Squash, Winter: Sweet Meat (A+) - This variety is absolutely delicious when baked and produces quite large squash. Has green skin but flesh is bright orange. Sweet Dumpling (B) - This is a popular variety with us but it didn't produce very many squash this year, for some reason. Delicata (A+) - It produced a lot of long, slender squash that are wonderful when roasted. Definitely a favorite.
Cream of the Crop acorn (A++) - It produced a LOT of squash on vines (contrary to what the seed catalog said about it being a bush-type squash). I harvested young squash as summer squash (tasty) and let the rest mature to use for roasting purposes. I just cooked one of them a couple of days ago, as a matter of fact. You'll notice in the photo that they have light, creamy flesh. The flavor was fine but the surprise was that the texture was a bit stringy, kind of like the way spaghetti squash are. My husband thought it was good so we'll roast some more in the next couple of weeks and see if that's the norm. For all I know, I should have roasted it a bit longer. Lakota (B-) - I've had good results in the past but production was poor this year. The seeds were fresh so I'm not sure what the problem was.
Tomatillo: Toma Verde (A) - My first time growing these; the plants got off to a slow start, then kicked it into high gear. They were very productive. We made 3 huge batches of salsa verde (green sauce) with them.
Tomatoes: Jetstar (slicing) (A+) - This was my second year growing this variety. It produces well, has fantastic flavor and large fruits. Definitely a winner! Sungold (cherry) (A) - We've grown this for years; very reliable; fantastic flavor where "you can't eat just one." One plant was sufficient to meet our snacking needs. San Marzano (paste) (A) - These are prolific and flavorful, but on the small side. Italian Pompeii (paste) (A++) - I love these and have been growing them for years. They are huge, flavorful, not too juice which is perfect for making sauces and ketchup, and very productive. Bellstar (grafted plum) (A+) - A friend gave me this plant after the season was well underway. Once it recovered from being transplanted rather late, it was very productive and we really liked the flavor of the tomatoes. You know how we all grow tomatoes because their flavor is outstanding? Well, Bellstar has one of the best flavors of homegrown tomatoes I've ever tasted!