Monday, April 24, 2017

Best I Ever Grew

As I was snacking on a store-bought pepper this weekend, I realized it's time to get my rear in gear.

Saturday marked Earth Day. In the past we celebrated the big mound of dirt beneath us by planting various veggies in our yard, but we've since learned it's best to wait until May. Still, it's prime planning time. I've already amassed a collection of seed packets, but I've yet to sketch out my garden and prep the perfect soil.

When brainstorming a topic for today, I thought of the how-to-start-a-garden post I wrote last year. While all that information remains true {and do click on that if you're thinking of growing your own}, today I want to share my five favorite crops to grow. Read on to see which varieties I recommend for my area and have a lovely Monday. I'm off to start measuring, figuring, writing, erasing, and writing some more... Good thing I have a fourth-grade math whiz to help.

  1. Clemson Spineless Okra: If you live in the south, you've heard this name. This is one crop I've planted every year, and with good reason. It loves the heat, can stand a drought, and the seeds are super easy to collect. I have continued the same crop for years and I have a bag full of seeds waiting to go in the ground. Also, it's delicious. If you cut it at its perfect length {that's about six inches, please stay away from those too-long okra pods}, it's tender and delicious. It also freezes easily.

  2. Burpless Beauty Cucumber: For a few years into my gardening experience, I hated growing cucumbers. I've always loved to eat them and although I could grow them by the pound, every single one tasted bitter. Then I realized that was a thing. I started testing out the varieties bred to be resistant to bitterness, and this one is delicious. I could eat a plate of these with ranch dip for every meal, and I get pretty close during the month of July. My mouth is watering. Seriously.

  3. Early Girl Tomato: Believe when I say I've experimented in the tomato department. {Honorable mentions go to the deep, earthy flavors of Cherokee Purple and the enormous Big Boy.} I still have plenty on my to-grow list, but Early Girl gets the top spot. As the name suggests, these are the first to fruit, the last to stop, and the most bug and disease-resistant variety I have ever grown. Even when the tall plants give in to the August heat, little green tomatoes are still everywhere. I will never not grow these.

  4. Super Sugar Snap Pea: I have only planted this cool-season vegetable once, but once was enough to win me over. I think maybe one basket full of these babies made it into the house. The rest of the harvests went straight from the vine into my mouth. They are as sweet as candy, but oddly enough.. still vegetables. They were also extremely easy to grow from seed. I planted in March and munched in May.

  5. Allstar Strawberry: My blog records show the strawberry patch was started in 2012. Since that initial planting, there are still baby berries of this variety growing amid the weeds. I didn't know whether the patch was alive after our not-so-cold winter, but apparently it went to sleep and woke up just fine. This variety is not an all-summer type, but the berries are big and better than any other I've tasted. Trust me, I am a strawberry connoisseur.

Nora would like to add broccoli to this list, and I'd also like to add the Jubilee Watermelon that grew beautifully despite the bugs, but ended as a midnight snack for sneaky raccoons.

Now it's your turn! What backyard crop variety do you think I should add to my repertoire? I'd like to try some new things this year, so jump in the comments and let me know!

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