The Best Garden Seed for Spring 1997

Mort Mather shares his favorite picks for best garden seed for spring 1997, includes seed variety suggestions for eggplant, zucchini, corn, beets, peas, tomatoes, pole beans, broccoli, radishes and melons.

| December 1996/January 1997

The votes are in and we've picked our favorite garden seed for spring 1997 planting. (See the photos of seed varieties in the image gallery.)

Arriving at favorite varieties can be tricky for a gardener. To begin with, we have a limited amount of space. We may also be limited by time since gardening, for most of us, is a part-time occupation, perhaps a hobby. Most gardeners don't involve themselves with planting several varieties side by side at the same time in the garden. We may recall that the carrots or the corn or the tomatoes were particularly good one year, and we may plant that variety again the next year. The second year we may wonder why we were so excited about the flavor the year before.

The only way to make a true comparison is to plant several varieties that are comparable and see that they are treated alike. They all must get the same amount of sun, water, fertilizer, and care and be grown in the same type of soil. Then comes the tough part: judging the flavor, texture, storability, color, resistance to disease and insects, etc. After much heartache and research, we've come up with a selection of our favorite seed for next spring that will take the guesswork out of your harvest. Our apologies in advance to those who'll no doubt be irked by our failure to mention their favorite. So on to the awards for best garden seed for spring 1997.

The Acquired Taste of Eggplant Varieties

Last summer we grew two varieties of eggplant. I recall my wife Barbara cooking up both for our comparison tasting. One had a very delicate flavor. The texture was creamy. It almost melted in our mouths. The other had a tougher skin and was more solid throughout. It had a strong eggplant flavor. Which did we like best? The one with the strong flavor. We were eating eggplant, after all, and we were eating it because we like eggplant. We usually go for the stronger vegetable flavor, as you will see in some of our other selections. This is an opinion article. If everyone agreed with us, the number of varieties available would dwindle. If that happened, we would have to switch varieties just to keep choice alive.

The two eggplant varieties came from Johnny's Selected Seeds. The delicately flavored vegetable was, according to the catalog, "No. 226 (F1 ): 55 days. (Round) New in 1995. Small, round 'baby' eggplant. No. 226 produces quantities of almost perfectly round, about 3" diameter, dark purple fruits, glossy and smooth. Perfect for specialty markets, and for prolific, early home garden production. Medium-size plants prefer good fertility.

Tender, quick-cooking flesh. Glossy purple calyx." The stronger eggplant flavor belonged to "Elondo (F1): 68 days. Large, cylindrical Italian type. Elondo is a lovely, productive variety with glossy dark purple skin and bright green calyx. Earlier maturing than many varieties of this type, with good yield potential in both heat and cold stress. The plant is large with strong branches." We found these catalog descriptions to be accurate.

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