5 Vegetables I Grow Every Year.
Plus 5 to try!

I walked through the aisles of the shop, eyes cast down, concentrating on the shuffling sound of my feet.  If I did that I could block out the whispering voices around me. Addicts. They were addicts and I didn’t want anything to do with them.  I wasn’t judging them, I just didn’t want to fall into the dark hole they had. And listening to them babble, all of them high as a kite,  would pull me right in with them. I’d become an addict too.

So I averted my eyes, listened only to the shuffle, shuffle, shuffle and made my way around the store.

Once I found what I was looking for in the aisle along the back wall, there was no more shuffling.  No more feet.  No more sounds.  Now there was just the voices.

“Look at this Marg, black radishes. Jet black radishes!!  And carrots.  BIG, PURPLE CARROTS!”  “Mark we have to get to these tomatoes!  They have tiger stripes and burst in your mouth and grow to full size in 4 days! At least that’s what Bonnie says …”

And just like that I was hooked.  A drooling, twitching, freakshow, spinning around the seed shop Tasmanian devil style.  I Kung Fu’ed poor Marg right across the room.  But guess who’s in possession of the last packet of purple carrots seeds?!  It’s not Marg.  Which is probably for the best really because Marg looks slightly bent now so she probably won’t be able to garden this season anyway.

And there you have it folks.  The truth behind seed addicts.  It isn’t our fault. It really isn’t. We try our hardest to resist any and all temptation because we know it’s stupid. We know we don’t need any more varieties of carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers or cabbage.  The problem is it doesn’t take much to send us into a full on relapse especially after 5 or so winter months of withdrawal.

I went to the seed store with a list of 3 packets of seeds I needed and came out with 12 packets of seeds, 9 of which I knew I didn’t need.  I’m just thankful I didn’t buy more. I was quite reserved when you think about it.  Especially when you consider at one point the entire tomato aisle was winking at me. WINKING.  There’s nothing more persuasive than a flirty tomato.

I do this every year so I don’t know why I’m surprised at myself and my lack of self control.

But buying and trying new vegetables is kind of like trying a new recipe. Yeah, there are going to be clunkers, but if you don’t try you won’t find a new favourite either. So every year I try a few new things. Not a lot of them make it onto my “must grow” list the next year but some of them do. And I always enjoy whatever I’ve grown for the season so it’s never a waste. Even last year’s Quinoa which was a bit of a disappointment was fun. It’s a beautiful plant and it grew great, I just found harvesting it to be a pain.

On the other hand, a certain type of carrot I tried last year has turned out to be a favourite and I’ll be growing every year from now on.

Here’s a list of the top 5 vegetables (and their variety) that are now and will forever be staples in my garden. They are the tried and true that never disappoint me.



 Green Beans – French Emerite (stringless, French filet, pole bean)

I’ve tried a lot of green beans and this one is my favourite. In fact it’s the only one I’m going to grow this year.  Normally I mix in some Scarlet Runners and Lazy Housewife for variety but since every year it’s the French Emerite beans I love the most I’m not going to waste space with other types.  They’re the perfect green bean.



Tomato – Green Zebra  ( sweet but zingy, indeterminate, prolific)

 The winner of my great tomato taste test last year, the Green Zebra tomato may look like it isn’t ripe but this green when ripe tomato has  a better fresh tomato taste than any of the red ones I’ve ever eaten.



Carrots – Lunar White (pure white, nice shape, sweetest and best tasting carrot of all the varieties I’ve ever tried)

I was cooking a few weeks ago and chose a bunch of different carrots from my carrot bin.  Orange ones, yellow and a couple of these white ones. Before I cooked them I took a tiny bite of each of them to compare the taste, just for fun.  I figured the white ones would have the least amount of flavour.  Turns out I was entirely wrong.  These Lunar White carrots were the sweetest most carroty tasting of all the carrots.  I immediately ordered another pack of them and will plant double the amount of them this year.



Kale – Dinosaur Kale

Dinosaur kale is my favourite kale because it’s milder and less tough. It doesn’t have the strong bitter taste that most kales do. In fact it’s so mild I usually eat it raw in a salad.  It will brave freezing cold temperatures and snow right up until January (in zone 6) or longer.  Plus, you couldn’t find a more ornamental vegetable if you tried.




Squash – Delicata Squash

The sweetest of of all the squash.  Delicata (Sweet Potato squash) is also more prolific than any other squash I’ve grown and despite having a fairly thin skin it will last in a cool pantry until at least January, sometimes longer.  My actual *favourite* squash is Kabocha (Cha Cha) because it’s perfect for making anything where the squash needs to be a bit dry like ravioli or soup and I make a lot of those things.  But for someone looking for a good dinner time squash, the Delicata is the way to go.


And THESE are the new vegetables I’m going to try this year.  I have high hopes for each and every one of them.  Famous last words.



Tomato –  Lucky Tiger (or it might be Green Tiger)

If you follow me on Instagram you might remember my shot of a new type of tomato I got at a local store last fall.  The owner made me try it right there and then in the shop.  It was the sweetest, most complex, exciting tomato I’ve tried in years.  It’s part of an up an coming open pollinated Artisan tomato group.  They’re small like a cherry tomato but more of a plum shape and they all have wild colours or markings.  I immediately bought a pint of the tomatoes and ate all but 2 of them.  Those last 2 I split open and saved the seeds from.  I’ll be planting these little things in the spring and hoping they’re as good as the ones I tried in the fall.


Carrot – Purple Sun (hybrid)

I’ve grown purple carrots for years and I’m pretty fond of the ones I normally grow, Cosmic Purple.  They’re purple on the outside and orange like a regular carrot on the inside.

But the Purple Sun (hybrid) carrot is purple through and through.  I had to try it.


Beets – Kestrel

My regular, no fail, staple beet is Bull’s Blood.  Along with being a good tasting beet, it’s known for it’s dark red leaves that are great for salads. But on a whim this winter I did some research into which is the sweetest tasting beet.  A lot of people complain they don’t like the earthy (dirt) taste of beets. I don’t mind it but I do like there to be some sweetness to the beet as well.  I searched out agricultural scientific resources and papers that did studies on the Brix (sweetness) levels of various beets.  Kestrel came out as one of the sweetest beets of all.  So I’m going to try it and see if those scientists knew what they were talking about.


Corn – Glass Gem

A reader sent me the seeds for this Glass Gem corn last year but I got it a bit too late to plant it.

It’s beautiful.  It’s edible, but not straight off the cob apparently. You can grind it into cornmeal or use it for POPCORN! What makes it so unique is the translucence of the kernels. They look like glass beads. I don’t have a whole lot of room for corn but I gonna make sure I get it planted somewhere.  I can’t even WAIT to plant this to see how it turns out.



Saffron Crocus

This one may or may not happen.  Saffron is actually the dried stamens of a certain type of fall blooming crocus. So the orange threads you see in the photo above is saffron.  You just pull them out and dry them.   Like other bulbs you’re supposed to get them in the ground before winter so they can start developing and go through the freeze cycle.  But I forgot to order some last fall so now I’m desperately trying to find a company who will send me some Saffron Crocus corms right now.  I’d get them in the soil as soon as I can work it and hope for the best. At best I’ll get a couple of flowers this fall, at worst I get nothing.

After seeing what I’ve shown you here I’m sure you get it.  You understand.  Even the most controlled of individuals doesn’t stand a chance against this kind of temptation.

It feels good to share this with you.  Like a weight has been lifted off of my soon to be sore and sunburned shoulders. My name’s Karen and I’m a vegetable seed addict.  Really, I am.  Just ask Marg.  I’m pretty sure once she’s able to communicate again, she’ll confirm it.


  1. Ron says:

    Have you ever considered trying to grow pawpaws?


    • Karen says:

      I haven’t! But what a fascinating tree! ~ karen

      • Betty says:

        I planted two pawpaw trees a few years ago from Grimo Nut Nursery down near Niagara-on-the-Lake. They are growing like gangbusters and look amazing. I live in a 6a zone and haven’t had any trouble.

  2. Carswell says:

    I just might have to grow some of that kale. I may put it in my side garden.

    I lost some trees last year courtesy of the ice storm and my side garden – which used to be full shade all day will now be full sun most of the day. It seems the perfect place for an outstanding edible and ornamental plant.

  3. Su says:

    Winking seeds… You had no choice

  4. ~JackieVB says:

    Definitely with you on the Green Zebra tomatoes – they are the best tasting and from what I’ve seen, pretty disease resistant as well. I’ll have to look into the Emerite green beans to see if they’ll do well here in my hot and humid Zone 8 garden. As for the Dinosaur Kale, I’ve tried it before and it didn’t grow well for me, the Siberian Kale does great but I like the idea of being able to eat Kale raw so may have to give it another go.
    Thanks for these suggestions, I always love to see how your garden grows! Wish they had something here in the way of a community garden plot – my yard is just too small for all the things I want to grow.

    • Karen says:

      Hi JackieVB – Kale likes cold/cool weather so it’s especially important to get it planted out when it’s cool. That’ll help give it a jump start for growing. It gets pretty hot here in Zone 6b of Southern Ontario. 100 degree days aren’t totally uncommon. So it can grow in hot weather, it just needs that cool to get it going. ~ karen!

      • Pam'a says:

        I just can’t get my head around Ontario, way up north, being in a warmer zone than Nebraska (we’re 5a-ish, up from 4…). Official frost date here is around May1, but I usually cheat it to around April 15. Tonight? 0 degrees.

  5. Debbie D says:

    Understand totally the seed issue. I am trying BLUE tomatoes this year I got from an antique seed company. Supposed to be absolutely yummy!

  6. Ev Wilcox says:

    Need a whole lot of snow melt here! I’m afraid the soil will be too cold too long. We’ll see….

  7. Marie says:

    My public library just opened a seed library with 40 different types of non-gmo seeds that patrons can check out. It’s a great way for an addict to get a fix.

  8. calliek says:

    At least your quinoa grew – I didn’t get a single sprout and I paid $10 for those seeds! I’m with you on the green zebras, they are one of my faves, along with tigerella. I ell about kae what you do regarding Brussels sprouts, but at least kale is easy to grow – I can’t grow Brussels sprouts to save my life!

    • Karen says:

      Bury the Brussels sprouts as deep as you can calliek. They need to be planted really deep in order to grow their tall stalk up the centre. Otherwise they just turn into a weird looking bush. ~ karen!

  9. Phyllis Kraemer says:

    Have you tried Black Zebra tomatoes??

    • Karen says:

      I haven’t grown black zebras. I was going to last year but decided that I didn’t want to make room for another tomato when my green zebra was so perfect. I think Laura from Cubits has the Black Zebra seeds. ~ karen!

  10. Clara says:

    What about the Mystery Keepers you wrote about last year. Did you like the taste and will you grow them again?

    • Karen says:

      The mystery keepers worked GREAT Clara! I brought some to my mother’s house for New Year’s Day dinner! They did exactly what they were advertised to do. VERY slowly ripened at different rates. However, they’re quite acidic tasting so to eat them straight off the plate they’re too sharp for my liking. But to use them on a sandwich or in something else they were perfect. ~ karen!

  11. Ann says:

    My fav green bean is Fortex. And it produces so heavy that I give a lot away and I have converted about a million people into Fortex lovers. I always have to grow Kohlrabi. One of my very favorite vegetables to eat raw. It doesn’t matter what variety. The grocery stores rarely have them, yet they are quite easy to grow. Beuregard sweet potatoes are a good heavy provider with tons of foliage that I can use to help feed our rabbits and then we get the tubers the entire winter off just a few plants. Fool You Jalapenos are now a staple in our garden. It has the flavor but not nearly as much heat as standard Jalapenos. We pick them everyday and at least once a day eat one just like you would any favorite fruit. I am not a big tomato fan but last year I grew some Pink Germans that we liked a lot. They were huge and best eaten just sliced on a plate. They were a bit too juicy and seedy for much of anything else.

    We are so slowly coming into spring. All this late season cold has kept me from getting much of anything in the ground here. Normally I could plant cold tolerant varieties and keep covers over the bed on nights where it was still going to drop below freezing. But this year we STILL have low 20’s predicted for several nights this week. Heck even my greenhouse doesn’t stay warm enough for that yet. But soon I will have the last bit of work done on it and a way to supplementally heat it at night when absolutely necessary.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ann – I grow Beuregard as well! I forgot to order my slips though and most of my sweet potatoes went into cold shock I think from being in the mudroom when it was too cold so I’m worried they aren’t going to sprout for me this year. If I can’t grow sweet potatoes I might have some sort of fit. ~ karen!

  12. Tigersmom says:

    What beautiful variety!

  13. Jennifer says:

    you know what those purple carrots remind me of????–

  14. Zoe says:

    “devil-barf” I wonder will my mother be offended when I use that at Christmas when she asks me if I want Brussel sprouts !

    Having failed to plant anything last year I think I’ll try again this year. That’s assuming the pile of snow in my garden melts at some point. I now need to go and read your seed post because I’m not very good at this, have the patience of a gnat and would quite like to just sprinkle the seeds and have it all happen !!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Zoe. I’m actually holding a seed starting course the first week in April. A live video course so you can see exactly what to do. How much water to add to the soil, what type of soil to use for starting seeds, how to plant them out etc. etc. ~ karen!

      • zoe says:

        Ooooh, how convenient! Daddy can have baby to bed duty (assume it’s a night time thing) and i’ll learn about seeds and drink a martini :)!! Look forward to more info!

  15. Marna says:

    Love trying new varieties. The past couple of years haven’t had much luck growing anything, the weather has been weird. I use to get a really good harvest but now it isn’t enough to share any more. I sure like the varieties you picked and can’t wait to hear how they do.

    • Karen says:

      Maybe you need to supplement your soil Marna. If you’ve been growing there for years (especially if it’s the same things in the same spots) the soil might just be depleted. Even mixing in a few bags of compost will probably get you back up and running again. ~ karen!

  16. Paula says:

    This year is my first attempt at growing veggies from seed. I never had enough room before (I am a hostaholic) but now with 2 acres-watch out! I thought I would check out the heritage options and three orders and 48 packages later…

    All or nothing, that’s me. I went crazy on Kijiji and bought three shelves of grow lights; my husband is concerned that the hydro bill will attract unwanted attention – he just doesn’t understand.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Paula! I’m actually holding a seed starting live video course the first week in April. :) It’ll be all you need to know about starting your own seeds and when and how to plant them out. ~ karen!

  17. Shelby says:

    We got the Rare Seeds catalogue this year. Lost count of what I ordered. It is an addiction. I’m blessed to have the room and a husband that shares the crazed nature of seed addiction!

    • Karen says:

      Well then you really ARE lucky. I’m buying seeds that I know perfectly well I have nowhere to plant, lol. ~ karen!

  18. Jennie Lee says:

    Karen, the “Glass Gem” corn is so beautiful, I don’t know if I could eat it! And the “Lucky Tiger” tomatoes are gorgeous! You’ve almost convinced me to eat kale again, which is saying something. But mainly, I gotta applaud your “Florence Nightingale for fish ” role. Bravo! Koi/ goldfish are so sweet. I had one that would surface and let me pet his head with my finger. I also had one (“Galen”) with an amazing, long, flowing double tail, who had several bouts of ich, and even got much of his tail CUT OFF when the tank got smashed (don’t ask) and he flew out the broken glass onto the floor …and it grew back!! What a fish! (I was blessed with his company for 10 years.) Once you’ve gone through traumas like that with them, they are very dear; very special creatures.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Jennie! I usually lose one over the winter and this has been an especially bad winter for them so fingers crossed they all make it through. Whenever kids come over here they LOVE to feed the fish. ~ karen!

  19. Nicole says:

    This post was one of my favorite posts too! I have had edible gardening on the brain even more than usual, because we have had warmer weather a little early this year near San Francisco and I’m planning our garden out right now, too. We also finally got a fence in the backyard a few months ago to keep out the deer and bunnies, so we will be able to eat our own produce finally! So excited and have more yard space in our new place to grow more food! Our csa box brings us rainbow carrots like the ones you shared and I think I will add those and many of your other suggestions to our spring garden. Happy planting, growing, and harvesting! THANKS KAREN! :)

  20. caryl hodgdon says:

    I tend to collect seed packets like i garner skeins of lovely yarn. I have an acre of land and unfortunately it’s dotted with black walnut trees that suck the life out of everything but squirrels. I even have the damn trees over and under my compost piles so i can spread the poisonous juglone everywhere… Oh yeah the yarn—I’m a lousy knitter. But I love your garden and the pics on the cubits sight are delicious.

  21. Bonnie says:

    This was a greatly informative blog, and it has further fired my burning desire to turn my front yard into a vegetable garden. I was so afraid that I would see a Brussels Sprout in the line up, but fortunately that was not the case. I think Brussels Sprouts are the only vegetables that I don’t eat. I think that you don’t like them either, Earth-bound Karen. I know your other readers believe that there are delicious ways to cook them. No matter how you cook them, they still taste like Brussels Sprouts, and I don’t like them.

  22. Mindy says:

    As a gardening addict myself, I look forward to hearing your results.

  23. Alison says:

    That corn!!!!!!

    It never occurred to me I could grow my own saffron….I might join you in your quest.

    • Pam'a says:

      You can… Got tweezers? There’s a reason saffron costs more than gold… Better to just plant them for their beauty. :)

  24. Chris says:

    One of my favourite of your posts so far…..hilarious, nutso, informative and wonderful pics! I only have a balcony and I want to grow corn now. Thanks, thanks a lot.

  25. Cheri says:

    I have a suggestion–the best cucumber I’ve ever eaten was Kaiser Alexander, and the seeds are available in Canada (unfortunately not in the US, so I’d have to enjoy it vicariously). https://www.heritageharvestseed.com/cucumbersak.html

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *