We love growing our own food to feed our family. But we also love trying and comparing lots of different varieties in our gardens. We're fortunate to have enough garden space where we can trial many different varieties, compare them, and share the results with our viewers and subscribers.
Not every variety we try is a great one. We do find our share of "stinkers" from year to year, but we're generally happy with most varieties we choose to grow. There are some, however, that stand above the rest. We call these "winners."
So we wanted to use this blog (and the next one) to tell you about our favorites, or "winners," from the 2021 Lazy Dog Farm garden. We won't mention every single variety we grew, but we will mention the ones that really impressed us. We'll cover half the winners on this blog and the rest of them on the next blog.
SWEET CORN - YELLOWSTONE
We usually grow several different varieties of sweet corn as we succession plant it throughout the warm growing season. However, this year we only grew one variety. We had a great harvest, were able to freeze quite a bit, and so we felt no need to grow more sweet corn.
We tried an "augmented supersweet" variety for the first time this year. These types have a combination of supersweet and sugary-enhanced kernels on the same ear. The supersweet kernels make it sweet and delicious, while the sugary-enhanced kernels add a nice, crunchy texture.
The Yellowstone variety far exceeded our expectations and has us sold on the augmented supersweet corn types. They have an excellent fresh eating quality, but also freeze very well. We'll definitely be growing more of these augmented supersweet types in the future.
POPCORN - ROBUST 977
Since we only grew one crop of sweet corn, we decided to give popcorn a try in late spring / early summer. Having never grown popcorn, we really did not know what to expect. We chose a hybrid variety called Robust R977 that had great reviews.
As you can tell from the photo above, we had an excellent harvest! This variety produces 10-11" ears and ours were almost completely full of kernels to the tip. We grew six 30' rows of this popcorn variety and had 4-5 gallon freezer bags full of popcorn after drying and shelling it. It might take us a few years to eat that much popcorn, but we're sure glad to have it!
POTATO - RED VIKING
We grew eight different varieties of potatoes in the spring of 2021 and all of them performed pretty well. But one variety had a significantly greater harvest than the rest. We had grown plenty of red potatoes in past years (Red Pontiac & Red Norland), but had never tried the Red Viking type.
We harvested over 80 lbs of potatoes from a single 30' row where we planted 5 lbs of cut seed potatoes. That's a huge return on investment! Not only were they plentiful, but they were the largest red potatoes we had ever grown. If you're a fan of red potatoes, we would highly suggest giving Red Viking a try.
TOMATO - ROADSTER
Our favorite types of tomatoes are determinate, hybrid varieties that produce loads of tomatoes in a short window. Our tomato growing season is relatively short due to our intense summer heat, so determinate varieties provide a greater harvest for canning and preserving these tasty treats. These hybrid determinate varieties also tend to have more vigor and disease-resistance, which we certainly need in our humidity.
A new variety for us this year was Roadster. This one was one of the earlier-producing determinate varieties we grew and had some of the largest tomatoes of all the determinate varieties we trialed. The tomatoes had a deep red color, were absolutely delicious, and were great for canning.
TOMATO - RED SNAPPER
This was our second year growing Red Snapper Tomato and it continued to impress us this year. The plants are extremely vigorous and very disease-resistant. This variety produces some of the largest determinate tomatoes we've ever seen. These are also great for canning and making tomato sandwiches.
TOMATO - KELLOGG'S BREAKFAST
Our favorite heirloom tomato that we grew in 2021 was the Kellogg's Breakfast tomato. This variety produces absolute whoppers, as we had some that weighed close to 2 lbs. The production is great for an heirloom variety and the flavor is phenomenal. This is probably the best-tasting tomato that we've ever grown.
TOMATO - GERMAN JOHNSON
As far as heirloom tomatoes go, German Johnson was a close second to the Kellogg's Breakfast variety. This one produced huge tomatoes as well with the typical "imperfect" shape that heirloom tomatoes tend to have. We really liked the acidity of these as they had that signature heirloom tomato taste that we all love.
TOMATO - LEMON BOY
In addition to the determinate hybrid varieties and the heirloom tomato varieties, we also trialed several indeterminate hybrid tomato varieties in 2021. The big winner in that category was Lemon Boy. This was the most productive indeterminate variety we grew with some of the most perfect, yellow tomatoes you've ever seen. They were packed with flavor and make a great snack right off the vine.
PEPPER - SANTA FE GRANDE
We had grown this variety several years ago, but had almost forgotten just how good it was! These peppers are similar in size and heat to a jalapeño, but they pack so much flavor. You can harvest them yellow or let them mature to a deep orange or red color for maximum flavor. We used them to make fermented hot sauce and it has been a hit!
PEPPER - COWHORN
This hot pepper is another that we've grown in the past, but had forgotten how much we liked it. These peppers are long, red, and pack a little heat. They're fairly thin-walled and great when sliced and sautéed. We use them to add flavor to tacos, burgers, omelets, and more.
PEPPER - KING ARTHUR BELL
We've grown many different bell pepper varieties over the years, but this one is the most impressive thus far. This variety produces huge, blocky peppers that are quite prolific. We use a lot of bell peppers when we're cooking, and just a couple plants were more than enough to provide us with a constant supply.
CUCUMBER - SUPREMO
Due to our humidity and intense disease pressure, we tend to be more successful growing hybrid cucumber varieties that have some built-in disease resistance. Based on the recommendation of some local farmers, we chose this Supremo variety for our second planting of cucumbers in late spring. Not only was this a vigorous and productive variety, but it produces some of the most perfect, blocky pickling cucumbers that were great for raw snacks or making pickles.
SUMMER SQUASH - DELTA
We've grown so many different varieties of summer squash that it's hard to remember them all. As far as the yellow squash go, we prefer a straightneck or semi-crookneck squash because they don't break as much during harvesting. We tried a variety named Delta this year and were very impressed with the production. We were consistently getting 3-4, sometimes 5, squash per plant per harvest. The flavor on these is exceptional and they seem to be pretty disease-resistant as well.
SUMMER SQUASH - PANTHEON
Until this year we had never tried a costata romanesca type of zucchini. We trialed an heirloom type and a hybrid called Pantheon. The hybrid significantly outperformed the heirloom type with better plant vigor and production. The texture of these squash is superb and then tend to be more firm than traditional summer squash.
MORE WINNERS COMING ON PART TWO
We hope you enjoyed this condensed recap of our 2021 vegetable garden trials. We also hope you'll try some of these varieties to see how they perform in your garden. We'll have more winners on part two as we discuss watermelons, pumpkins, okree, winter squash, and more!