Sunday, April 24, 2016

Recommended Veggie Varieties Part II

This is part II of a series since we grow too many veggies to put all of this in one post.  Well, it also means I get more mileage on the blog with multiple posts.  Tricky me!  If you want to see part I, it is here.

We hope you enjoy reading about varieties we love to grow!

A reminder of the rules:
1. It must be a variety we have three or more years of history growing.
2. Crop failures due to weather that resulted in crop failures of all of that vegetable do not count against a variety.
3. To make the list, the variety must be the ONE variety we would grow at GFF if we were FORCED to grow only one.
4. We must balance productivity, taste, reliability, etc to make our choices.  Choices are not necessarily the one variety we might recommend to a new gardener, nor are they necessarily our absolute favorites for taste.  Selection does not mean we wouldn't miss other varieties.  But, it does mean that, when push came to shove, we would pick this one over others.

We'll make this the vine crop post for no other reason than I tend to think of some of these things in groups anyway.  So, why not just follow my train of thought as it leaves the station.  It'll work as long as I don't get into a roundabout and no body lets me out of that loop!

It would be sad if we couldn't grow some of the melons we have on our list because Tammy and I both love the variety of taste we get once these get going.  It's also a bit harder for us because we grow differently in the high tunnel than we do in the field.

Given everything, we're going to have to go with Pride of Wisconsin.  Why?  Well, for one, it gives us a fairly standard looking cantaloupe, so it would be easier to get people to take it from us if we had a plethora of them.  The taste is certainly quite good, so that isn't an issue either.  But, the thing that really sets it apart from the others is the consistency.  They can handle some goofy weather or some goofy farming.  Perhaps not both at the same time, but they are more forgiving than most.  Production levels are good and they do take the ride in the truck pretty well too.   

As I go through this list, I realize that we could almost do the same thing with melons and cucumbers as we did with tomatoes and peppers.  We grow several varieties for different reasons.  For example, Boothby's Blonde gives us a small, snack cucumber that can also be used for pickling and Marketmore 76 is a larger slicing cucumber.  Should you have to pick between them?  The answer is - for the sake of the exercise - yes.  Drat.

We would select Marketmore 76 for consistency and production for the past 10 years on our farm.  If this variety fails, it is unlikely you would have gotten any cucumbers from any other variety.  Their taste is good, though you might want to peel it a bit if it is a larger fruit.  We like it even more because it is an open-pollinated variety that continues to get use in all sorts of growing operations.

Winter Squash
This one in particular will pain me a bit.  I could happily live with eating Pride of Wisconsin melons and tolerate missing the other varieties.  I'm fine with Marketmore 76 for cucumbers and won't be crippled if the other varieties went away.  But, I get stuck on the winter squash because the varieties I REALLY WANT for my own personal use aren't the ones I feel like I must select for this category.

So, with apologies to my personal favorite Marina di Chioggia, I must select Waltham Butternut.  Perhaps this hurts even more because I feel like this and the other two before it are not very creative selections.  A standard cantaloupe, a standard American slicing cucumber and now the ubiquitous butternut squash are on the list.

Let's be honest here, Waltham's have less trouble with pests as a c.moschata than squash in the c.maxima family.  I can have a great crop one year of Burgess Buttercup and nothing the next two.  How could I recommend that to anyone?  But, you'll get some Waltham's almost any year as long as you get them in the ground and keep weeds away for the first half of the season.  Butternuts can be used for pies or soups or however else you prepare squash.

Reliable, useful, good taste.  Waltham Butternut is a winner.
Finally, we get to one that is a no-brainer for us and it shows everyone that we do grow some things that are different from everyone else!  Musquee de Provence has been a consistent producer, has fantastic taste and is a good looking pumpkin to boot.  Production numbers will certainly be smaller than it might be for other varieties in part because of the size (8 to 18 pounds) and the density of the fruit.  But, these store well (we still have a couple in our basement that can be used) and give you alot of squash when you process them. 

Our only downside for what we do is that they would require more space to produce enough pumpkins for our needs.  But, the quantity/quality trade off makes this one work just fine. 

Summer Squash
We bet you didn't think this could happen with us, but here we are.  We aren't going to select a winner for this category.  We used to love Superpik, except for the fact that it was a hybrid.  Superpik went away.  Since then, we have tried Multipik (hybrid) and Success (open pollinated) for straight necks and Sunburst for the patty pan.  We've also tried a few other things like Benning's Green Tint and Wood's Prolific.  Nothing has really stood the test of time with us, so we really can't pick one.

If it was based on taste alone, we would have selected Costata Romanesco, but the production numbers aren't good enough for us to put all of our eggs on the farm in that basket.  Cocazelle is also a striped cucumber and may well be a descendant of Costata.  We detect some of the same nutty taste that we like and the production numbers are more consistent.  We love the look of the dark green skin we get from Midnight Lightning and Black Beauty.  Their taste is also fine, as is the production.  But, in the end, we've got to go with Cocazelle.

Orangeglo  Yes, it has to be Orangeglo. Sometimes it is spelled with the "w" on the end, sometimes it isn't.  the presence of the "w" doesn't matter when you open one up and start munching.  
Orangeglo are different from the norm.  They have a great texture and a great taste.  They look cool.  They've produced in years when other watermelons didn't want to.  Their seeds have set distance records in watermelon seed spitting contests.  And.. well... they're ORANGE inside!  

I think I got a soft spot for this variety when we had a couple of beautiful vines volunteer in the middle of one of our pastures.  We managed to protect it and got some gorgeous watermelons.  

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