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National Survey of Top Tomato Varieties

We conducted an online survey asking readers about the tomato varieties that grow best where they live. More than 2,000 people responded, telling us their favorite varieties and offering helpful tomato-growing tips. You can read the summer in this article: The Best Tomatoes to Grow Where You Live 

Click here to take the survey.

If you'd like to see the ongoing results, click here.


National Survey of Most Productive Garden Crops


tomato basket 

There is no question these days that homegrown food is better tasting, more nutritious, more eco-friendly and often more affordable than supermarket fare. Many people are expanding their gardens, and there is renewed interest in finding the best crops that are efficient to grow, prepare and preserve — and that families will enjoy. Choosing crops that best fit regional growing conditions is essential to a vegetable garden's success, but what are the top garden crops for each region of the country?

To find the answers, Mother Earth News is invited gardeners all across North America to participate in a one-of-a-kind national online survey to rate the garden-to-table performance of over 70 major and minor vegetables, from arugula to watermelon. We have identified which food plants excel in different climates, and reported on plant performance trends that may be unique to organic, sustainably-managed gardens in The Best Crops for Your Garden

Completing the 20-minute survey can be a learning experience in itself, because it will force you to take a critical look at your pet and problem crops. When you finish you will be able to see the tabulated results from hundreds of American gardeners, including many members of the renowned Seed Savers Exchange.

To take the survey, click here.

Thanks for helping us collect this unique information about how gardeners rate the most productive crops for American gardens.

If you'd like to see the results without taking the survey, click here.

The rating scale is 1 to 4: Larger numbers are better!

Join the Garden Advisory Group

This crop survey has worked out so well that it has sparked ideas for more ways of using the survey process to improve our future gardening articles. We’ve decided to start a new Mother Earth News Garden Advisory Group. To sign up, simply click here and fill in your e-mail address.

Post a comment below.


Kurt Hammerschmidt
4/16/2011 12:16:33 PM
For me the most prolific producer here in the North West part of the Florida panhandle has been Snow Peas. The pump out more produce from a limited area than anything else I can grow here.

9/25/2010 11:08:34 AM
as a horticulturist serving as a govt. sector in india i like to use for the benefit of farmers. dr. subhadeep

9/23/2009 9:34:11 PM
I really wanted to take this survey, but after the first page of having to click "I don't grow it" *several times* for each item I don't grow I gave up. The first page should ask what you do and do not grow, and the subsequent pages should only query you on the items you actually grow. This was a poorly designed survey.

Boyd Talbert_1
9/3/2009 11:50:23 PM
This is a great way for me to learn without so much trial and error. Thanks so much to all who contribute.

art behne
9/3/2009 9:05:58 PM
your magazine is great and gives me the info that helps me get a good crop

5/5/2009 8:32:05 PM
Sorghum is productive, heat tolerant, drought tolerant and a heavy grain producer (as well as it can be used for making syrup and silage for animals) It is a great crop with this three-fold benefit. Godbless, Anwar

3/29/2009 3:07:53 AM
Better Boy Tomatoes were my winner here last year. Nothing bothered them. Produced till sometime in November. Better Bush and Sunmaster were also great but not as productive. And as always..Cosmonaut Volkov produced enormouse numbers of the most awesome tomatoes..before the August pests and heat effected it.

3/15/2009 7:23:29 PM
The results are interesting, even at this (what looks like, anyway) it's beginning stages. My question is: What exactly is being grown in home gardens in this country? I noticed many "do not grow it" responses. On another note, this spring and summer, I will have to devote about 20% of my garden space to supplemental food/scratch/roughage for our 2 goats and 8 chickens. By the way, I am curious--how many of the survey responders are using heirloom varieties vs.hybrids?

Edward J Peters
3/1/2009 8:39:34 PM
Will not offer too much on what is highly productive exactly just a few opinions about having satisfying results. A little cold frame and favorable weather can almost guarantee the most productive early greens imaginable. I did a simple frame sunk deep with matching plastic cover,mine was deep enough to give bottom a layer of fresh(read hot)horse manure,followed by rich loam.Push the season with this and do it with a mixture (I did arugala mostly)of favorites. I don't know why but this early Spring planting in the Hudson Valley was top quality and very bountiful. By the time things really got going the cover and its night time frost protection had successfully served its purpose.If things get too cold plant again but try this, it must be that cool sunny Spring that gives you months fabulous production. This is work true but not at all out of proportion to the result. Another idea that a farmer friend with big space was planting his tender long season vegetables against a south facing wall in a similar primitive greenhouse. Again with some risk from extreme cold but here in a small space an entire large vegetable gardens seedlings lived and grew to be transplanted when frost free.The appeal here: the simplicity, seedlings planted and dealt with one time until transplanted in a semi-protected outdoor space. No potting ,easy watering,and very easy in its simplicity.Again a terrible cold might have been a heartache ,but to go in and grab these big healthy seedlings as needed for transplanting seemed the epitome of efficiency. Personal favorites for 'glad I planted that': early radishes(French breakfast) I guess . Sweet corn ,do a little A Zucchini or two Kentucky pole beans a bush bean variety beets,for greens as well Tomatoes(dah)

Betty Allen_2
2/27/2009 4:21:13 PM
I have gardened for most of my life. I now have access to CSA shares and to fresh produce through a subsidized program for seniors where I can purchase directly from growers at farmers' markets. Since I can purchase (at minimal or no cost to me) practically any vegetable that grows, and in quantities to eat fresh as well as preserve for the winter, I plan to convert my garden space to herb production. The options for purchased herbs seems to be confined to basil and garlic, with few others. I cannot think of a dish I prepare that does not contain herbs and spices. I have put herbs amongst my flowers around my home and I will now convert my garden. The only vegetables I will continue to grow are bush summer squash and bush green beans as both are probably the most productive use of space. I wil also continue to plant potatoe varieties that are usually only found in stores and are expensive to buy (fingerlings, gold, etc.).

pat gudgel
1/31/2009 6:38:06 AM
While it is possible to grow in Florida, expect victories and failures...I live on 2/3 of an acre of basically sand soil...I add a lot of composted horse not add uncomposted oak leaves as it will turn the soil acidic...I would recommend no pesticides on okra...the aphids were controlled by a healthy population of lady bugs..the ants seemed to do no harm, and I handpicked off the leafhoppers and destroy...I had never grown okra before..It has a very pretty large blossom..petunia like..light yellow with a deep red center..and it grew like a weed...if it stops producing...beat it back...and it starts producting the summer water only in the morning or you'll end up with molds etc...

Mike Jordan
12/26/2008 2:06:19 PM
we are noticing that more and more people are working to stretch the season longer and longer. We grow year 'round and encourage others through sharing what we do on our website at Another thing I like to emphasize is how much can be grown on small areas of ground . We are growing all our vegetables with a surplus to sell to local customers on 1/4 acre. This survey should be very helpful to a lot of people. thanks Mike Jordan

Kelly Keefer_1
12/6/2008 8:32:03 PM
In northwestern PA, this last year we did square foot gardening, only (4) 4'x4' boxes (adding 5 more next year) in our backyard. We live in a suburban development with a 1/3 acre lot. We got amazing amounts of produce. My favorites for taste and productivity were 1)swiss chard - It's now December 6th and just last week I went out and brushed off about a foot of snow and harvested enough for a couple of omelets for the second time this winter. 2)Royal Burgundy stringless bush beans - they were very tender even when they were left on the bush longer than usual and produced huge amounts in very little space all season long. Totally Organic Novice

Barbara Pleasant_3
12/6/2008 9:44:35 AM
These comments pick up where the first group left off. “Please note, my answers come from working with over 5 acres of gardening space.” Mid Atlantic Region Totally organic 10-20 years experience “I am really new at this but have been having great success with most of what I’ve been growing. In fact, I have to learn to grow just enough for two people. At the end I was giving away large amounts.” Southwest Totally organic 1-2 years experience “One vegetable that needs more press is edamame (green soybeans). We love them and they are super-nutritious. Very easy to grow, somewhat time-consuming to shell and freeze but well worth it. In these trying times, they are a great source of protein and fiber and a good, easy-to-grow food. We even save our own seed.” Mid-Atlantic Region Occasionally use chemicals More than 20 years experience “I don’t think this survey takes into account the fact that even with great techniques, there are times when certain crops just don’t do well for a year or more and then suddenly do very well again.” Central/Midwest region Totally organic 3-5 years experience “This survey tells me I should grow a bigger variety of crops.” Mid-Atlantic Region Occasionally use chemicals 10-20 years experience

Barbara Pleasant_3
12/6/2008 9:42:08 AM
Thank-you thank-you thank-you to everyone who is taking the time to complete this survey. The number of responses is growing, and things are getting interesting indeed. You can look at the main set of numbers by clicking on the results link, but it won’t show you some of the interesting comments folks are adding as they finish up the survey. Here’s a quick sample. “I look forward to helping with these surveys as I hope with food prices getting higher, people will get excited about growing more of their food. It’s fun, it saves money, and it’s great exercise! Southern Interior Region Totally organic More than 20 years experience “You need another box or two for “grew it once and won’t repeat the mistake” and “the jury is still out.” I won’t be wasting space on kohlrabi again but will replant amaranth in a more sheep-proof location.” Mid-Atlantic Region Totally organic 3-5 years experience “Thanks for doing this survey! Our family enjoys Greek amaranth, a healthy, prolific and low-maintenance “alternative” green, and we encourage friends and fellow gardeners to give it a try.” Southern Interior Region Totally organic More than 20 years experience “I consider Swiss chard the most fool-proof and long-season producer in my Zone 4 garden.” North Central and Rockies Region Occasionally use chemicals More than 20 years experience “Because our growing section can be very short up here, I often grow in ‘boxes’ made of bales with old windows set on top, to get things growing sooner. Makes an odd-looking garden, but my stomach doesn’t care. We have hot summers (fierce) and everyone says kale gets bitter then, but mine is always sweet because I plant it under trees where it’s always cooler and shaded and I keep it very wet. Seems to work; I eat fresh kale in July at 100F and it’s sweet. Maritime Canada & New England Region Beyond organic/sustainable More than 20 years experience “Please note, my answers come from working with over 5 acres of

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