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[There are separate pages for Herb and Spice Types and Fruit and Berry Types.]
This part is really the kernel of this site. It's confounding that in this day and age, in which there is a myriad of magazines discussing the qualities and tastes of comestibles from wines to commercial flours, we home-garden vegetable growers have no central source of plausibly reliable taste reports from which to compare the various varieties of each of the many vegetables we grow annually. A very few--tomatoes most notably--excite enough interest that there are extensive discussions available about varieties, but what's the best-tasting celeriac? Or, for that matter, broccoli?
We have scoured the internet, including both the web and usenet, looking for information; we have also, of course, pored over numerous seedsmen's catalogues, for what that's worth. (It is amazing how there can be sixteen varieties of a vegetable, each and every one of which is absolutely, positively the best variety there is.) Because of such bias, we have, in our evaluations of the literature, given far and away the most weight to various scientific studies, conducted mainly by universities and State agencies, because they have nothing to sell and no axes to grind. Next in weight were comments--mostly on usenet--from experienced home gardeners about their results and preferences. Close behind those were comments from various presumably knowledgeable persons--produce writers and the like. Below those were catalogue comments from the few non-profit seed organizations out there. Definitely last were catalogue descriptions and claims from seed-selling companies.
(A nice, useful directory of vegetables--particularly distinguished by clear photographs of each kind discussed--is The Cooks' Thesaurus.)
Besides the culled results of our searches, each page also has one or more links to other pages that seemed to us to augment the collated information provided on our page. We tried to not simply include every findable web page referring to each vegetable listed, but to just list pages that seemed--in our judgement, anyway--to have something of use to other gardeners beyond what we had already extracted and summarized. Paens to the joys of gardening or to the delicious taste of a fresh-picked whatever or to Zen and the art of gardening and all suchlike were omitted if they didn't have some practical information. Also omitted were pages with minimal "Sunday magazine" types of "information."
Each vegetable page also includes approximate dates for starting seedlings indoors (when that is appropriate) and for transplanting seedlings or direct-seeding outdoors in the garden. That information is also summarized in a garden calendar on this site (read the disclaimers there carefully).
To make life easier for those who might be looking for seed sources for the cultivars we recommend, we have also made a page showing suppliers for each cultivar (that page also contains an "upside-down" list--a table showing each seedsman included in the by-cultivars table and, for each, all the recommended cultivars they carry, with the ones unique to each highlighted).
And if you have some left-over vegetable seed from prior seasons and want a guesstimate of the likelihood that it's still viable, we found some tables that give at least comparative data.
Well, we looked and listened and read--often spending many long hours or even days on just one vegetable--and, considering our climate and tastes, here is what we have come down to as choices, and why.
(Please, please help us out here: if you know of a problem or shortcoming with one of our choices, or think you have a materially better substitute, email us with the idea.)
The two broad topics that we have not explored for any vegetable are diseases/pests and recipes. If you have, or are concerned about getting, particular pests or diseases in your garden, it's best to review many, many web pages about your exact problem. If you want ideas on cooking up (or preparing raw) this or that vegetable, you could start with these cookbooks (and the many more shown on that and the other pages of that site).
If you find this site interesting or useful, please link to it on your site by cutting and pasting this HTML:
The <a href="http://growingtaste.com/"><b>Growing Taste</b></a> Vegetable-Gardening Site
In association with The Book Depository, we offer a library of books on vegetables, including books on growing, specialty cookbooks, plus a few related odds-and-ends books on the topic of vegetables, available for purchase from The Book Depository (never any shipping charges added).
Since you're growing your own vegetables and fruits, shouldn't you be cooking them in the best way possible?
Visit The Induction Site to find out what that best way is!
If you like good-tasing food, perhaps you are interested in good-tasting wines as well?
Visit That Useful Wine Site for advice and recommendations for both novices and experts.
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