Favorite Crop Varieties: Paste Tomato, Pole Beans, Broccoli and Okra

Brook Elliott shares MOTHER readers favorite crop varieties, including Amish Paste tomato, Trail of Tears pole beans, Packman broccoli and Clemson Spineless okra.
By Brook Elliott
June/July 2003
Add to My MSN

Trail of Tears pole beans.

Content Tools

Related Content

Summer Planting for Fall and Winter Harvest

It may be sweltering hot outside, but we're still busily sowing seeds at the Southern Exposure farms...

A New York Dairy Farm is the First to Use New Pasteurizer From Bob White Systems

With its recent FDA approval, the first LiLi pasteurizer was purchased for use at a New York micro d...

EZ Tomato Cages Provide Support Lacking in Other Brands

EZ Tomato Cages are collapsible and sturdy unlike many currently on the market.

Announcing “Top 10” Heirloom Tomatoes for 2012

“Black” tomatoes still reign with the best of the reds and pinks bi-colored and cherry tomatoes stil...

MOTHER readers share their favorite crop varieties.

Great taste is one of the biggest reasons to grow your own garden, yet many of the best-tasting varieties are becoming hard to find because our current food system often values shelf life and shipping qualities more than taste and tenderness. MOTHER'S Cream-of-the-Crops series of readers favorite crop varieties presents outstanding varieties recommended by our readers.

"Amish Paste" Tomato Variety

"Amish Paste" is an heirloom tomato from the Amish community in Wisconsin. It's an abundant producer of blocky, pointed, deep-red fruits, often described as "acorn-shaped," "ox heart" or "teardrop." The tomatoes are thick-fleshed, with relatively few seeds.

Often listed as an 8-ounce tomato, they actually are of variable size but have unmistakably outstanding flavor. This variety won first place in a tasting of more than two dozen varieties in this country, and second place in a similar tasting in Australia.

In addition to a rich, full-bodied summer-tomato flavor, "Amish Paste" is an all around tomato, fleshy enough to be used as a paste tomato, tender enough for a salad slicer, yet juicy enough for nice, thick tomato juice. I've tried dozens of tomatoes and rate this as one of the best canning tomatoes available.

Seed is available from numerous sources, including the Seed Savers Exchange [www.seedsavers.org].

— David Cavagnaro
Decorah, Iowa

"Trail of Tears" Pole Bean Variety

"Trail of Tears" is the epitome of a versatile bean. Usually considered a fresh shelling or dry bean, young pods also can be eaten as snap beans, sliced and added to salads, or steamed whole and added to any meat or poultry dish. When dried, they have a smoky taste that turns even a so-so pork-and-bean dish into a gourmet tastefest.

"Trail of Tears," sometimes called "Cherokee Trail of Tears" or "Cherokee Black," is a very old variety, reportedly carried by the Cherokee Indians during their forced removal in 1838 and 1839 from Georgia to Oklahoma.

The rampant vines produce numerous pods that turn purple as they mature. The beans themselves are purple in the fresh-shelling stage but mature to midnight black. Vines should be well supported on poles or trellises, or the weight of the crop can cause them to fall.

Seed is available from Horus Botanicals; Salem, AR. Catalog, $3.

— John Yeoman
Beds, United Kingdom

Packman Broccoli Variety

"Packman" broccoli has a sweet, earthy taste. A reliable performer, it is early maturing with large, sage-green central heads of uniform size.

To harvest, cut the main head at a 45-degree angle before the buds open. Harvestable side shoots will form soon after the central head is cut. The plants are relatively tall, growing to 27 inches.

Like other broccoli, "Packman" should be started indoors five to six weeks before your safe plant-out date (March or April in most parts of the country), or it can be direct-sown in some areas such as the Pacific Northwest. It is cold hardy but requires early plantings because it will not tolerate high summer heat. Floating row covers help deter cabbage worms and loopers.

"'Packman" preserves well, with stalks remaining firm, and even after being frozen, it tastes as if it just came out of the garden.

Seed is available from Territorial Seed Co. [www.territorialseed.com].

— Sheila Wallin
Rainier, Oregon

Clemson Spineless Okra Variety

"Clemson Spineless" is a tender, earthy, full-bodied okra. It tastes great and cooks quickly while retaining a firm texture. It's especially good in gumbo, fried or pickled.

A hearty producer, "Clemson Spineless" is easy to grow either by direct sowing after all danger of frost is past, or by pre-starting and transplanting. The plants are vigorous and tall, growing up to 5 feet, and produce prolifically. Pods are uniformly straight, deep-green, ribbed and spineless. They'll grow to 9 inches, but should be harvested at 3 to 3 1/2 inches for best flavor.

A longtime favorite, particularly in the Cotton Belt, "Clemson Spineless" was released in 1938 and named an All-America Selection in 1939. Since then, it has become the most-popular okra grown, both commercially and in home gardens. It is widely available. Because the seed is open-pollinated, it can be saved.

— Helen Murray
Mayfield, Kentucky

Previous | 1 | 2 | Next

Post a comment below.


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.