Some of our favorites and where to get seed.
When it comes to vegetable varieties we are tomato, cucumber, squash, and pepper fiends: flavor and quality come first, yield second. We can’t stand supermarket tomatoes. Any tomato description that says “firm, good shipper, or long shelf-life” usually means a commercial variety for the supermarket….feels like a baseball, looks and tastes like a sponge. We also don’t like specially bred greenhouse varieties. Our direct, hands-on experience has been that only heirlooms and certain modern hybrids will pass the test. These are always outdoor, field tomatoes.
Tomatoes: Supersonic, Ramapo, Scarlet Red, Granny Cantrell, Rutgers, Super Choice, Tappy’s, Big Zac, Kellogg’s Breadfast, Coustralee, Patano Romanesco, Mortgage Lifter, Omar’s Lebanese, Delicious, Pruden’s Purple, Super Steak, Brandywine, Big Rainbow, Pineapple, Manyel….to name a few. One thing about heirlooms: it is true that they possess the best flavors, but they are notoriously inconsistent in their yields.
Cucumbers: Most any will do. They are easy. You can grow the european greenhouse types that self-pollinate, or you can grow field types. The self-pollinating greenhouse varieties from Paramount Seeds are outstanding!
Squash: Also easy with lots to choose from. The yellow and green zucchini types give a lot of bang for the time and space. Long-season varieties produce a lot of vegetation but not much fruit.
Peppers: All kinds of bell peppers, both greenhouse and field types. Jalapenos, green chiles, poblanos, serranos….they all do phenomenally well. And the good thing is that they are compact enough that you can put 3 different kinds in a planter for variety.
Eggplant: These grow as persistently as weeds! When we grew in soil, eggplant was one of our most problematic garden vegetables. We had diseases, bugs, and low-yields. It is the opposite in hydroponics: eggplant is about the easiest vegetable to grow now, with yields going over 100 in our Japanese varieties.