The Best Crops for Your Garden

Plan your most successful garden ever by using crops that naturally thrive where you live. 

By Barbara Pleasant


Last fall, we hatched what has turned out to be a terrific idea: a national survey to rate North America’s most productive garden crops. We invited thousands of our readers who grow food gardens to rate a list of 70 crops, and with more help from members of Seed Savers Exchange, we amassed groundbreaking, firsthand regional advice from hundreds of gardeners from British Columbia to Boca Raton.

The online survey covered a lot of ground by asking four questions about everything from asparagus to sweet corn to watermelon:

  • How easy is it to grow?
  • How much do you like to eat it?
  • Does it make good use of the time and space it requires?
  • How easy is it to store?

The following regional “Top 10 Crops” revealed by the survey (based on all four criteria) will give beginners a great start. However, they won’t fill up most gardens, so our report also covers “pet” crops: veggies that people want with such passion that they’re willing to take extra measures to help them grow. The survey also identified minor-league veggies like arugula that are not widely grown, but get uniformly high ratings from those who grow them.

We hope you find fresh, helpful guidance in these initial results from the first Mother Earth News National Garden Crops Survey. May your 2009 garden be your most efficient, bountiful and delicious ever!

The Best Crops for Your Garden
Photo by Walter Chandoha

The National Top 25 Crops

  1. Garlic
  2. Bush snap bean
  3. Pole snap bean
  4. Slicing tomato
  5. Cherry tomato
  6. Paste tomato
  7. Potato
  8. Snow/snap pea
  9. Shallot
  10. Shell pea
  11. Scallion
  12. Chard
  13. Dry soup bean
  14. Sweet pepper
  15. Rhubarb
  16. Summer squash
  17. Spinach
  18. Hot pepper
  19. Carrot
  20. Winter squash
  21. Beet
  22. Kale
  23. Sweet corn
  24. Collards
  25. Radish

Easiest to Grow

  1. Radish
  2. Chard
  3. Bush snap bean
  4. Rhubarb
  5. Cherry tomato

Most Wanted

  1. Slicing tomato
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Cherry tomato
  4. Garlic
  5. Asparagus

Best Use of Time and Space

  1. Scallion
  2. Lettuce
  3. Chard
  4. Cherry tomato
  5. Radish

Easiest to Store

  1. Garlic
  2. Onion
  3. Potato
  4. Shallot
  5. Dry soup bean

Regional Top Crops

For a full report on the best crops where you live, click on your region below:

North Central & Rockies
Maritime Canada & New England
Pacific Northwest
Southern Interior
Gulf Coast

Gardening regions 

For more helpful tips checkout our Gardening Books in our Mother Earth News online store!

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