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NC State Extension

Vegetable Variety List

This list was developed by Doug Jones, the Land Lab manager for Central Carolina Community College’s Sustainable Farming Program in Pittsboro. The Land Lab is CCCC’s five-acre outdoor classroom for research, demonstration, and crop production and is located about 1 mile west of downtown Pittsboro in Chatham County.

These are varieties that are currently performing well for Doug at CCCC. He has dropped some good hybrids so he can emphasize non-hybrid varieties, as part of his ongoing search for varieties that have potential to be locally adapted and improved to approach the yield and quality of some of the better hybrids. Seeds of such improved open-pollinated varieties could then be produced locally.

This list will always be a work in progress, with recognition that there are more good varieties out there waiting to be trialed and proven under Piedmont conditions. If you would like to recommend favorites of your own, please email Doug or Cricket Rakita of CFSA’s Save Our Seed Project. If you would like to try some of the promising varieties from Doug’s trials and seed-saving work, please contact him for seed. He will also be selling slips of 10 proven and promising sweet potato varieties in May, and bulbs of proven garlic varieties in October.

Rating System: Doug recommends all these varieties. He assigned a rating scale of +, ++, and +++.

+++ is the highest rating. T means it is still undergoing testing.

Seed Sources: Click on the Original Source link in the chart to see where to find the seeds. Seed suppliers are listed at the bottom of the page. Consult the Grower Resource List on this website for more suppliers.

Consult the Planting and Harvesting Guide for Piedmont Vegetables for information on crop planning.

Greens
(Salad and Cooking)
 Rating
Notes
Tyee
++
F
Hybrid, very slow-bolting, savoyed, disease resistant
Olympia
+
F
Hybrid, medium-bolting, mainly for fall use; semi-savoy, mild taste
Space
+
J
Hybrid, slow-bolting smooth leaf
Bloomsdales – Various
T
Various
Open-pollinated heirloom varieties – need more trials to determine best cultivars; very savoyed; usually not as long-standing as hybrids
Lettuce
(Baby for Mild Mix)
 Rating
 Notes
Red Velvet (red Grand Rapids)
 +
SS 
 Similar to Johnny’s Blackjack, but redder, slower bolting
Merlot (deep red Grand Rapids)
++ 
 HM, F
 Equiv. to Johnny’s Galactic, darkest red of all lettuces; med. bolting
Tango/Monet (green oakleaf)
 ++
 J/F
 Frilly, almost like endive, fairly slow bolting, great texture for salad
Dano (red oakleaf)
+++ 
LL 
 Johnny’s discontinued my favorite variety, so I’m producing seed. Very slow bolting, both heat and cold resistant, dark red; many cuttings possible
Rave (red Grand Rapids)
 ++
 Unique deep pink/majenta color, productive
Baronet (green Grand Rapids)
 ++
 Dark green, heavily ruffled
Wild Garden Lettuce Mix
 ++
WG 
 40 varieties, mostly created by Frank Morton
Flashy Green Butter Oak
 ++
 WG, F
 Fast growing, beautiful lime-green oak leaf with red splotches; medium bolting
Aruba (red oakleaf)
 ++
 Deep red, angular lobes, slow bolting
Forellenschluss/Troutback/Freckles
 +
 F, HM, J, WG
 Romaine with lots of red speckles; WG’s strain is selected for larger speckles; fast bolting; speckles can look like rotten spots under some interior lighting
Lettuce
(Dual Purpose Head/Baby)
 Rating
Notes
Jericho (Romaine)
++
various
New Israeli heat tolerant romaine
New Red Fire (red G.Rapids)
++
F
Slow bolting, not darkest red, huge when grown for heads
Marin (Green Grand Rapids)
++
J
Fast growing, slow bolting, large
Green Ice (Succulent G. Rapids)
+
F, TT
Tasty; Succulent, crisp, good for switching folks from iceberg to leaf
Mikola (Red Bibb)
++
TT
Large, dark red when grown for heads, bolt resistant
Lettuce
(for Heads)
 Rating
 Notes
Esmerelda (Green Bibb)
+
F
Large, lime green, nice heart
Sierra
+
F
Very slow bolting, “summer crisphead”
Ermosa (dark green Bibb)
++
J, TT
Darker green, solid, my favorite bibb
Green Forest (Romaine)
+
J
Large, fast growing
Carmona (large red Bibb)
+
WG
Huge
Pirat Butterhead (Seed from WGS)
+
HM
Good, compact red bibb
Other Mild Salad Greens
 Rating
 Notes
Yukina Savoy
++
J
Savoyed brassica, dark green, almost looks like spinach, or like tall “Tat Soi”, much easier to pick than Tat Soi
Kyona Mizuna
++
Various
Lacy leaf adds unique texture
Mizspoona Salad Selects
+
F
Cross, Mizuna X Tat Soi, many interesting leaf shapes, fast growing
Red and Purple Orachs
F
Tall-growing; pick individual leaves, color is bright purple
Wild Garden Mild Mustards
WG
Mix of many mustards
Hopi Red Dye Amaranth
WG
Not a hardy green – more of a summer ingredient
Spicy Salad Greens
 Rating
 Notes
Arugula
++
many
Variation in varieties from different companies
Persian Cress
WG
Watercress taste, upland grower, slow
Osaka Purple Mustard
J
Hot; nice color
Magma – (Curly Purple)
++
WG
Like Osaka but beautiful greenish wavy edge
Wild Garden Pungent Mix
WG
Chinese Thickstem Mustard
+++
via
Fedco
Brett Grosghal’s hardy improved flavorful sweet/spicey mustard – available by special arrangement with him or Fedco
Cooking Greens
(Brassicas)
 Rating
 Notes
Toscano Kale (Dinosaur, Lacinato)
++
F, J, WG
Unique, long gray-green, puckered leaves, heat and cold tolerant
Lacinato Rainbow Kale (Brassica oleracea)
+++
WG
Beautiful cross of Toscano type and ornamental type, lots of purples
Red Ursa Kale (B. napus)
+++
WG
Stunning special selection of Red Russian type, hardy/heat resistant
Wild Red Kales (B. napus)
++
WG
Mix of red Russian/Siberian types, some leaves quite frilly, hardy
Wild Garden Kales
++
F, WG
Like Wild Red, but with some green ones. Many different leaf types
Redbor Kale F1
++
F
Deep purplish/red, European frilly type
Champion Collards
+
F
Hardy, productive
Senposai (mild mustard) – B.rapa xB.oleracea
+++
F, LL
Exciting new collard substitute; faster growing, more tender, faster cooking, heat/cold tolerant. I’m dehybridizing it;have lots of seed
Toraziroh (mild mustard)
+
F
Large, fast growing, very dark green, mild mustard taste
Shuko (Pak Choi)
++
F
Hybrid baby pak choi, quick (45 days)
Joi Choi
T
Standard pak choi, loose head
Chard and Miscellaneous Greens
 Rating
 Notes
Argentata Swiss Chard
++
F
Wide, pure white stems, very dark green leaves, very productive
Rhubarb Chard
+
SS
Seed Savers has a selected strain that performs better than others
Bright Lights Chard
++
F, others
Stunning mix of stem colors; My selection emphasizes red/orange
Golden Chard
++
WG
One outstanding color!
Celery, Ventura
++
TT
Check with me on how to grow celery in the Piedmont
Carrots
 Rating
Notes
Nelson
+
F
Quick maturing Nantes hybrid, very thin tops offer little freeze protection
Nantes Fancy
+
F
Good, longer-than-average Nantes
Atomic Red
J
Fancy red gourmet carrot
Yellowstone
F
Yellow, long, O.P. heirloom, somewhat uneven in flavor and growth
Red-cored Chantenay
F
Short stocky storage carrot – good for heavy soils
Shin Kuroda
F
Refined Chantenay type
Nantaise (O.P. Organic)
+
TT
The latest refinement of Nantes from Europe
Nevis F1
+
J
Hybrid Nantes, sometimes our best tasting
Kinbi F1 (Yellow)
+
J
Fast-growing, good looking yellow carrot, short (Chantenay) shape
Sugarsnax
+
J
Very sweet, extremely long “Imperator” type, high in beta-carotene
Scarlet Nantes, Navazio improved
++
SC
Some years this has the best flavor
Dragon (Navazio purple)
+
SS
Quite purple, good but not our favorite for flavor
Beets
 Rating
 Notes
Early Wonder
++
F
Productive, high quality greens and roots
Burpee’s Golden
++
TT
Beautiful but not productive; gold color doesn’t bleed into other food
Bull’s Blood (red leaf)
+
F
More for salad mix but also a decent root
Turnip
 Rating
 Notes
Rutabaga
+
F
Laurentian
Hakurei F-1 Salad Turnip
+++
J
Super crunchy, sweet, mild, for salad or snacking out of hand
Radish
 Rating
 Notes
Easter Egg
+
F
Nice color mix – red, pink, purple, white
Cherry Belle OG
+
F
Other good red radishes are available
Parsnip
 Rating
Very slow growing – a challenge for our short cool-season windows
Johnny’s improved varieties
+
J
Need further testing
Harris Model & Cobham Improved
+
TT
Need further testing
Onions
(biennial, but…)
 Rating
 Notes
Texas Superweet, other southern sweet yellows
+
DX
Get seedlings from this Texas farm, plant early/mid March
Stockton Red
+
SC
Seed flats in Jan. or buy plants from Texas in March – good keeper
Super Star
+
J
Intermediate Day Hybrid, large white sweet, not long keeper
Candy
+
F
Intermediate Day Hybrid, yellow, fairly good keeper
Newburg
+
SC
Int. Day, O.P., works at our day-length, good keeper
Olympic (hybrid)
++
J
Hybrid, matures well here, quite early, good keeper
Leeks
(biennial)
 Rating
Easier to grow and save seed than onions, (both cold & heat hardy)
Lincoln
+
F
Tall “summer” leek, not very hardy
Imperial
++
F
Quite hardy, quite tall for a hardy type, productive
Broccoli
 Rating
 Notes
Arcadia
+
F
Mid-season, sturdy, large tight heads
Nutri-Bud
+
SC
Best open-pollinated broccoli I’ve found, fairly uniform for an o.p.
Purple Peacock (B. oleracea)
+
F
Pretty, leaves can be picked like purple kale. Small heads
Brussels Sprouts
(biennial)
 Rating
Slow to mature, try overwintering under row cover
Oliver
+
F
Relatively early, hybrid. Start plants in shade late July
Cabbage
(biennial)
 Rating
 Notes
Hermes
+
F
Hybrid; Nice early head
Early Jersey Wakefield
++
F
Classic pointy head heirloom, good taste, early
Primax
++
J
O.P. early small head
Super Red 80
++
F
Early hybrid red
Cauliflower
 Rating
Difficult crop in our climate, likes mild cool weather
Early Dawn  
T
Best early one I’ve found, from Territorial Seeds
Veronica F-1 (Romanesco)  
J
Beautiful spiraling green head, not easy to grow (late maturing)
Graffiti (F1) Purple  
F
Striking purple
  
Peas
(Snap and Snow)
 Rating
 Notes
Sugar Ann
++
F
Best dwarf snap pea, I still remain loyal to this one
Sugar Snap
++
F
The classic snap pea, needs 5’ trellis, best snap pea but weak germination
Oregon Giant (snow)
+
F
Productive
    
Potatoes
 Rating
Notes
Carola
++
WP
My favorite – creamy yellow flesh
Red Dale
+
WP
Productive Red, smooth shape
Rose Gold
+
WP
Yellow flesh, rosey skin, good taste
Caribe
+
WP
Purple skin
    
Watermelon Gene Pools
+
various
I have not isolated melons, so I have not-pure lines of Yellow Doll, Blacktail Mountain, Orangeglo, Sweet Siberian, bicolor crosses. Some seedlots are almost pure
    
Tomatoes
(Red Slicers)
 Rating
All but Jet Star and Sun Sugar are Open Pollinated
Cosmonaut Volkov
+++
F
Delicious, fairly early, few blemishes, good yield, 6-7 oz. fruit
Tropic VFN
+
SE
Large, few blemishes, good taste, yield, 7-9 oz
Martian Giant
+
SC
Medium, good taste, minor blemishes, slightly irregular, 6-10 oz
Livingston’s Beauty
T
Swap
Medium, meaty, somewhat large core
Productiva
HM
Medium, meaty, somewhat large core
Jet Star
++
F
High yield, great taste, my only hybrid slicer
Tomatoes
(Pink, Purple, Black)
 Rating
 Notes
Rose de Berne
+++
F
Pink, delicious, few blemishes, long production, 6-8 oz
Eva Purple Ball
++
SE
Pink, virtually blemish-free, good taste, 6-8 oz
Brandyrose
+
Swap
Amateur breeders’ experimental – Brandywine x Rose de Berne
Rose
+
J
Very large pink, good flavor, few blemishes
Cherokee Purple
++
Swap, F
Big dark and handsome, good sweet/acid balance, 8-12 oz
Nyagous
T
SS
“Black” actually reddish-brown
    
Tomatoes
(Orange, Green, Bicolor)
 Rating
 Notes
Persimmon
+++
Swap
Delicious, bright orange, few blemishes, heat resistant, 7-9 oz
Nebraska Wedding
T
Swap
Orange
Aunt Ruby’s German Green
+
F
Ripens to green
Green Zebra
++
Many
Beautiful, tasty, vigorous, long season, 2-5 oz
Striped German
+
Swap
Very large bicolor, colorful inside and out, good taste, some irregularities
Gold Medal Bicolor
T
SS
Still testing
    
Tomatoes
(Paste, Plum, Banana)
 Rating
Some of these make a good slicing/snacking tomato
Speckled Roman Paste
++
F
Long Paste, beautiful yellow striations, good taste, 5-8 oz
Federle
+
SS
Banana (very long paste), productive, 6-10 oz
Long Tom
+
SS
Banana, similar to Federle
Orange Banana  
Swap
Nice pale orange, somewhat bland, 4-6 oz
    
Tomatoes
(Cherry)
 Rating
 Notes
Sun Sugar (Improved Sungold) – Hybrid
+++
F
Identical to Sungold (delicious), but doesn’t split after rain; 3/4 inch
Black Cherry
+
Swap
Handsome brown cherry, good taste
Dr. Carolyn’s Yellow
Swap
Pale yellow, nice contrast with other cherries, not very sweet
New Pink Cherry (chance hybrid)
T
Volunteer
Probably Sun Sugar X Chadwick Cherry, fairly sweet
Sweet Peppers
 Rating
 Notes
Early Pimiento
+++
Swap
From Rob Danford – super early, crunchy, sweet, prolific, 2-3” diam.
Doug’s Yankee Bell
++
Selected
My 15-year selection of Yankee Bell – early, prolific, small/medium
Long Yankee Bell (chance hybrid)
++
Volunteer
Yankee Bell x Corno di Toro – large, long bell, early, prolific
Napolean Sweet
++
SS
Large red bell, good ripe flavor, somewhat uneven fruit shape
Corno di Toro
+++
BC, SE
Huge plant, huge long Italian fruit, huge yield, huge flavor, needs major trellis effort; holds fruit size well through season
Marconi
++
SS, SES, E
Possibly the best tasting ripe pepper, medium Italian shape
Chervena Chushka
+
SS
Sweet, juicy, smallish, pointy, good yield
Chocolate Beauty
++
T, SS
Large, thick-walled brown bell, reddish-brown inside, sweet
Purple Beauty
+
Various
Dark purple ripening to red, thick walls, decent yield
Gourmet Hybrid Orange Bell
+
J
I’m starting to dehybridize
Quadrato D’Asti Giallo
++
BC, SS
Huge, sweet, thick-walled yellow; heat defect in placenta, I’m selecting away from heat and looking for original no-heat
Hot Peppers
 Rating
 Notes
Aji Dulce (Capsicum chinensis)
++
SE
All the background fruity flavor of Habanero, 2% of the heat!!
Habanero
+
Various
Classic super hot with special flavor
Hot Paper Lantern
++
J
Productive; sturdy red pointed fruit, quite hot
Aji Limon
+
Swap
Beautiful bright yellow, sturdy pointed fruit
    
Eggplant
 Rating
 Notes
Listada di Gandia
++
SS
Beautiful purple/white stripes
Swallow
++
F
Productive Asian finger-shaped purple-black hybrid, tender

Seed Sources:

BC = Baker Creek

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
417-924-8917; Mansfield, MO

DX = Dixondale Farms

Dixondale Farms
877-367-1015; Carrizo Springs, TX
onion plants and supplies

F = Fedco

Fedco Seeds
207-873-7333; Waterville, ME
seed cooperative; some certified organic seeds

HM = High Mowing

J = Johnny’s

Johnny’s Selected Seeds
800-854-2580; Winslow, ME
some certified organic seeds

LL = Land Lab Saved Seed

SC = Seeds of Change

Seeds of Change
888-762-7333; Santa Fe, NM
all seeds certified organic, plus books, tools, and more

SE = Southern Exposure

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
540-894-9480; Mineral, VA
some certified organic seed, heirloom seeds, books, supplies

SS = Seed Savers

Seed Savers Exchange
319-382-5990; Decorah, IA
heirloom and organic seeds and plants, seed potatoes, garlic, books

Swap = Seed Swap

T = Territorial

Territorial Seed Co.
541-942-9547; Cottage Grove, OR
some certified organic seed

TT = Turtle Tree

Turtle Tree Seed
518-329-3038; Copake NY
biodynamic, open-pollinated vegetable, flower, and herb seeds

WG = Wild Garden

WP = Wood Prairie Farm

Wood Prairie Farm
800-829-9765; Bridgewater, ME
certified organic seed potatoes, potato growers’ supplies

This page last updated January 16, 2006.

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