Best Tasting Vegetable Varieties

Learn about different varieties of vegetable seeds you can try this season to get the best tasting vegetables from your garden.

| March/April 1977

Vastly more flavorful sweet corn, tomatoes, cabbage, cucumbers, snap beans, radishes, yams, and squash! That's what Derek Fell — former manager of the Burpee seed catalog, author of Countryside Books' How to Plant a Vegetable Garden, one-time director of All-America Selections (the national seed trials), and gardener par excellence — promises ... and delivers.

When I was new to the seed business, I found it difficult to understand how anyone could breed a "better" vegetable variety ... an improved type of cabbage, say. Cabbage is cabbage, I reasoned. How in the world could anyone claim to have improved upon a crop that's been cultivated for hundreds — perhaps thousands  — of years?

Eventually — as I gained experience raising and writing about new vegetables — I began to see how breeders could indeed create better crop varieties ... varieties that (through increased disease resistance, added productivity, etc.) could ensure greater success and enjoyment for the home gardener.

I also began to realize that although vegetables can be bred for many characteristics — early maturation, large size, extra vigor, high nutritional value, bright color, and so on — good flavor is probably the single most important quality a vegetable can have. After all, a tomato can possess exceptional disease resistance or have tremendous productivity ... but if it doesn't taste good, what's the point in growing it?

Factors that Affect Vegetable Flavor

In order to grow truly tasty vegetables, one must know something about the factors that affect the development of good flavor. Factors such as:

THE AGE OF THE VEGETABLE (OR FRUIT) AT HARVEST. As a rule, the mildest — and best-tasting vegetables are those that've been harvested as soon as possible after they've matured. This is particularly true of root crops, such as turnips and carrots.

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