With warm weather on the way, gardeners are thinking about their summer garden and what to grow. The choices can be overwhelming, but if you’re looking for a nudge in the right direction, the Contra Costa Master Gardeners can provide it.
Janet Miller, garden manager at Our Garden in Walnut Creek, provides some options that should help you narrow your choices. Most of these vegetable varieties have been grown at Our Garden, the Master Gardener’s demonstration garden.
Here are the gardeners’ picks:
- Green Globe is a classic artichoke and will produce multiple artichokes through about July, when production slows. Cut it back and it will produce more chokes in the fall.
- Purple of Romagna is a good choice for those who live in the hotter climates.
Bean varieties can be snap, fresh shelling and dried, and they come in bush or pole types. Bush beans set fruit at the same time, leading to a harvest that can last up to six weeks. A plus for bush beans is that you don’t have to stake them or provide additional support.
Pole beans have a much longer harvest time and are good producers. However, they will need a pole or other structure to climb. They are easier to harvest, however, as they don’t require as much bending and stooping.
- Jade bush beans are amazing producers, guaranteeing you plenty of beans. They also are tolerant of higher temperatures.
- Provider bush beans are good for those who live in the cooler areas of the Bay Area.
- Amethyst bush beans produce purple pods, which make them easier to see against the green foliage. The tasty bean pods can be up to 6.5 inches long, and they are heavy producers. They’re good raw or cooked.
- Royalty Purple bush beans make beautiful plants. The pods are considered stringless.
- Ideal Market pole beans are early producers.
- Climbing French pole beans are tasty and easy to grow.
- Hilda Romano pole beans are very tasty, stringless and among the first to produce each season and the last to stop. The plant will be heavy, however, and will need a strong support.
For shelling beans, you’ll leave the pods on the vine until they are just about to open, then harvest.
- Borlotti, bush or pole, beans are one of Miller’s favorite. They are very flavorful and Miller likes to cook for them about 20 minutes, then dress them in oil olive, garlic and salt. Pick Borlotti, an Italian classic, just as the pods begin to turn pink.
- Flagrano bush beans are probably the easiest beans to shell.
Leave the pods on the plant until both the pods and the plant are dry, but harvest before the pods pop open.
- Tiger’s eye are very tasty, Miller says.
- Black Coco are tasty and good producers.
- Cannellini Lingot bush beans are a staple in Italian cooking
- Beit Alpha are classic Persian cucumbers. They are sweet and the skin is edible. You can expect high yields with this one.
- Diva cucumbers are big producers. They were developed for field production and so don’t require staking. They also are seedless.
- Lemon cucumbers are a favorite of many people and are big producers. Miller says they can be pickled or eaten right off the vine.
- Natsu Fushinari are the most disease resistant cucumbers, less likely to get powdery mildew. They are a good choice for those living in the hotter zones.
- Suyo Long are early producers, with cucumbers ready to harvest in 65 days.
- Casper is a white egg plant, a big producer and a fairly early one. Plants will continue to produce into December. Miller says she resisted Casper for a long time, but she became a fan after tasting them. Their white meat is creamy, has few seed pockets and has a mushroom taste.
- Dancer is a lovely lavender egg plant that also has white, creamy flesh and few seed pockets.
- Galine is a classic Italian egg plant. It is dark purple and smaller than other egg plants.
- Listada de Ganda is a European heirloom and is fairly productive.
- Orient Charm is an Asian variety that is an early producer.
Wait until the soils is very warm before planting melons. They love the heat.
- Crane melons were developed in Sonoma County and are not widely available. They are one of the sweetest melons you can grow.
- Eden’s Gem is a small, sweet melon with green meat.
- Honey White is a big, meaty melon that will sweeten up on the vine. They are very easy to grow and are early producers.
- Arava are similar in taste to cantaloupes.
When growing peppers, be sure to protect them from the heat to prevent sun scald. At Our Garden, the peppers are covered with shade cloth after they set fruit.
- Marconi is a classic sweet pepper that come in red and green varieties.
- Corno di Toro Giallo is a sweet yellow pepper.
- Lunch Box peppers are small and sweet. Miller has had better luck with the orange varieties, which she thinks are the tastiest.
- Gypsy is another sweet pepper that will produce different colors of peppers on the same plant. If not harvested, however, they all will eventually turn to yellow.
- Aleppo is a hot pepper. Miller waits until they turn red, and then she dehydrates and grinds them. They make a wonderful red pepper flake for seasoning.
- Jalapeno El Jefe is a very hot pepper.
- Jalapeno Felicity is a mild pepper.
- Padron is a flavorful pepper that ranges from mild to hot, and there’s no way to tell — other than tasting — which pepper is which. They are from Spain and should be picked when they are 1 to 1.5 inches long.
- Shishito peppers also range from mild to hot.
- Cargo is a short vine pumpkin that is a good producer. Short vine varieties help keep the pumpkins in their patch and not all over the garden.
- New Racer is also a short vine variety. They are smaller than Cargo pumpkins.
- Rouge Vif D’etampes is a French pumpkin also called a Cinderella pumpkin. They produce big, classic pumpkins that are lovely to have around.
- Dunja is a tasty dark zucchini that is an excellent producer. They also are slower to develop powdery mildew.
- Emerald Delight is lighter green and has a nutty flavor.
- Mexican Gray zucchini is a popular variety. It has a mild taste and thin skin. It also is an excellent producer
- Superpik Yellow is a classic summer squash with a mild flavor.
- Zephyr squash are tasty and good producers, but one reason to grow them is for their color. One end is yellow and the other end is green.
- Mortgage Lifter is a big, beefy tomato that is delicious and a good producer. It was developed during the Great Depression and was so popular that the cultivator was able to pay off his mortgage through the sale of the tomatoes, giving the plant its name.
- Cherokee Purple is a beautifully colored tomato and a good producer. If you are planning to dry farm your tomatoes, the Cherokee is a good choice as it is hardy.
- Hillbilly is a yellowish orange beefsteak. It prefers high heat so wouldn’t do well in cooler areas.
- Jersey Boy is a classic red slicer. It also is very healthy, disease resistant and very productive.
- Persimmon is an orange beefsteak that loves the heat. It is prized for its lovely orange color, but also because it has only a few seed pockets, making it a beefy tomato. It is only a medium producer, however.
- Big Beef is a hybrid that is a good producer.
- Big Mama is a large Roma tomato that doesn’t tend to get blossom end rot that is so common in Romas.
- Black Cherry is a cherry tomato that produces big, sweet cherries. It also can be a large plant.
- Supersweet 100 is a popular cherry tomato. The fruit is bright red and, as the name testifies, very sweet.
- Vorlon is a dark purple tomato that is a good producer. The fruit is a little bit flat and odd looking.
- Butterscotch Butternut are small squash, perfect for smaller meals.
- Honey Bear acorn is a sweet squash and an excellent producer.
- Sunshine Kabocha is deep orange in color and looks a lot like a pumpkin.
- Sweet Dumpling Delicata is a small round winter squash that produces a very sweet fruit. The plant itself doesn’t get too large, if space is an issue in your garden.
This is the 10th season for Our Garden, which was founded by the Bay Area News Group in 2009, and operated by the Contra Costa Master Gardeners. Free classes are offered at the garden at 10 a.m. every Wednesday from April through October. Produce grown at the garden is donated to the Monument Crisis Center in Concord. The garden is at Wiget Lane and Shadelands Drive in Walnut Creek. Seeds and seedlings are available for sale on Wednesdays at the garden.
Source : https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/04/06/top-picks-for-the-summer-vegetable-garden/