must grow veggie plantsWe are just a few weeks away from starting our seeds indoors for this year’s garden – and as always – it’s time to share our top seven must grow veggie plants for the garden!

Our garden is used not only for fresh food throughout the Spring, Summer and Fall months – but with a lot of canning in mind – so our “must haves” are chosen for incredible flavor and production.

And as always –  feel free to share your favorites in the comments section below – we love to learn what you love to grow too!

So in no particular order – here are our 2016 must grow veggie plants:

The 7 Must Grow Veggie Plants for 2016

Must grow veggie plants
The San Marzano Tomato

San Marzano Tomato

If you love pasta sauce – then the San Marzano is for you! This variety is straight from Italy and produces a heavy load of thick, rich tasting tomatoes that will add incredible flavor to all of your dishes.

The San Marzano has a tiny seed cluster that is easily removed – making it an excellent choice for the home gardener wanting to make great-tasting canned sauce, salsa, stewed tomatoes and more.  They also perfect for salads as well!

San Marzano variety is also an excellent choice for containers and patio planters – it’s smaller plant size, tight clustered fruit and compact root structure make it perfect to grow. 

Italian Roaster

Italian Roaster Peppers
Italian Roaster Peppers

This plant has now rocketed to the top of our list for peppers! It is one of the first peppers we have picked now for the last two years – and only seems to get better as the year goes on.

In fact – our Italian Roaster plants become loaded with huge peppers by mid summer – some of which measure  over 12″ long!

The peppers start out firm and green and turn to a beautiful red as they mature. Their thick walls make them great for stuffing or for holding up well on the grill – and their mild but sweet green bell-like taste is simply delicious. They have become our absolute favorite pepper to grow!

must grow veggie plantsBeauregard Sweet Potato

This dark red-orange sweet potato has turned into one of our favorites! It has a super-moist sweet tasting orange flesh – and stores incredibly well – making it a great choice for gardeners.  

It is also an excellent choice for cool season areas – unlike a lot of the sweet potato varieties out there.

They do require a lot of sun, so make sure to plant them in a sunny area that will let them reach their full potential. Although they can be grown in traditional rows – we will be trialing them in our potato crates this year to save on growing space.

If you love sweet potatoes – you have to try growing the Beauregard!

The Atomic Red Carrots - Photo courtesy of Baker Creek Seeds
The Atomic Red Carrots – Photo courtesy of Baker Creek Seeds

Atomic Red Carrots

These carrots were not only easy to grow – but their deep red color make them a conversation piece! They are also high in lycopene, making them a very healthy choice to grow as well.

The Atomic Red performed really well in our raised beds, even through an extremely wet early Spring and Summer.

We love to add them to salads for their great taste and color – but they are also the perfect choice for cooked carrots with their thick and meaty texture.

Chinese Five Color Pepper

If you like hot peppers – you have to grow these! We first picked up these ornamental hot pepper seeds in Florida a few years back when visiting Mary’s parents – and what a lucky find!

planting vegetables
A mass planting of Chinese Five Color

They grow hundreds of 1″ peppers on each plant in a beautiful array of colors from light purple to orange to deep red.  The plants are so beautiful in fact that we began to grow them all around our farm’s landscape beds to add color and interest.

Their flavor is simply unbeatable, with a spicy zing that doesn’t linger on the tongue. We use them fresh in salads and salsas – but when dried – hands down they make the most amazing pepper flakes and pepper grind you will ever taste.  It has the heat of cayenne pepper – but with so much more flavor!

Chocolate Cherry Tomato

Chocolate Cherry Tomato
Chocolate Cherry Tomato

As far as cherry tomatoes go – the Chocolate Cherry has become our clear-cut winner!

This heirloom variety produced well both in the garden, and in our patio planter at the house – producing hundreds upon hundreds of perfectly round dark reddish-brown fruits that burst with flavor.

They are perfect in salads, salsa – and were very easy to juice as well. One note – one or two plants may be more than enough – the sheer volume can be overwhelming! We harvested over 80 from one mature plant on a single day this past summer.

Once you taste a chocolate cherry tomato – you will never look at cherry tomatoes the same again!

Parris Island Lettuce

must grow veggie plants
Parris Island Lettuce

This has become the go-to lettuce in our garden!

It is a classic heirloom romaine variety – with compact, slightly curled dark green leaves. It has as a crisp and sweet flavor – making it perfect for salads! It is also much slower to bolt that our lettuce varieties – and keeps on producing long after the others have succumbed to the heat of summer. 

Parris Island grows best in full sun, but can handle some partial shade as well.

So there you have it – our top  7 must grow veggie plants for 2016!  Feel free to share some of your favorites in the comments below.

Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary 

Old World Garden Farms

28 thoughts on “7 Must Grow Veggie Plants For 2016

  • February 18, 2016 at 8:04 pm

    I enjoy all the information you share with us,thank you
    My question is all the veggies you shared today, are they heirloom seeds?

    • February 18, 2016 at 8:08 pm

      Gail, yes, they are all heirloom varieties. And so glad you enjoy our blog! Thank you

  • February 16, 2016 at 6:38 am

    Can’t wait to get in the garden!!

    • February 16, 2016 at 6:42 am

      We know the feeling!!!!

  • February 15, 2016 at 12:49 am

    Oh, you are making my mouth water — I’m so ready to get my hands in the dirt and start our seedlings.
    NOTE: I’m receiving double emails from you. No big deal to me, but thought you might like to know. I know this is a new set-up, so thought I should mention it. Not sure this is even important as I’m so NOT a computer person.

    Thanks for the list of your 7-Must Have Veggies. I’m writing them down and will add to my seed list for next year — have all the seeds I can handle this year.

    Happy Day To You ~

  • February 14, 2016 at 11:10 pm

    What is your favorite source for organic seeds?

    • February 15, 2016 at 10:58 am

      do you have ‘one’ source to find these veg. I looked and have to order from several sites, which can get real expensive for shipping? any suggestions? Thanks, Gertrud R.

  • February 14, 2016 at 7:53 pm

    I grew the San Marzano Tomatoes two years ago and the plants were so loaded with beautiful tomatoes. I was able to can plenty for sauce. I’m looking forward to growing them again this year. Last year we had late snow and frost so I lost many of my tomato plants.

  • February 14, 2016 at 6:59 pm

    Wow, these sound good! I’m near Atlanta, and I imagine your choices would do well here also. I’m particularly interested in trying the two tomatoes in your post and the five color peppers. Thanks!

  • February 14, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    I agree with your recommendations except for Atomic Red Carrots. I don’t grow hybrids so I use Scarlett Nantes instead and they are delicious raw, cooked or roasted.

    • February 14, 2016 at 2:44 pm

      OOPS! I’m sorry. It looks like Atomic Red carrots are an heirloom after all–they just don’t grow as well as the Scarlett Nantes in my desert climate.

      • February 14, 2016 at 3:06 pm

        LOL – no problem Ray – and the Scarlett Nantes sound great too!

  • February 14, 2016 at 12:28 pm

    Hello, where do you get your seeds from? I can’t find the Italian Roaster peppers in any of my seed catalogs.
    Greetings from Canada

  • February 14, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    Hello from another central Ohioan (Delaware), I am new to your page and blog and absolutely love the site and information you provide. I wonder if in the future you would be willing to share more varieties that you have found that do well in our climate. In my experience much like the San marzano, the martino Roma (heirloom from Bakers creek) also does exceptionally well here. I am hoping to find melons that can handle our weather. Thanks again for he info you share!

  • February 14, 2016 at 9:20 am

    Good morning. I am receiving two copies of your emails. Thanks in advance for fixing that

    • February 14, 2016 at 9:27 am

      Not a problem – we had a couple of those happen when we switched email clients – we will remove one. Thanks for letting us know!

      • February 14, 2016 at 12:34 pm

        It’s happening to me as well.

        • February 14, 2016 at 12:55 pm

          Thanks Lois – I found your duplicate and removed it – thanks so much for following us!

  • February 14, 2016 at 9:18 am

    where do you purchase your sweet potato slips? I have purchased mine from George’s Plant Farm but am always looking for less expensive sources that are still reliable. I am in central Ohio

    • February 14, 2016 at 9:24 am

      Hi Barb – we get ours from Johnnies Seed Company – nice to hear from a fellow Central Ohioan!

    • February 14, 2016 at 9:26 am

      Hi Barb – we get ours from Johnnies Seed Company – nice to hear from a fellow Central Ohioan!

    • February 15, 2016 at 7:52 am

      I make my own sweet potato slips. You can make them by putting 3 tooth picks halfway into a sweet potato, around the middle of the potato, and putting it in a cup of water. The water should be halfway up the potato. Once the sprouts are about 3 or so inches tall, pull them off and put them into some moist soil. In a couple of week they will have grown some roots and are then ready to plant in the garden.

  • February 14, 2016 at 8:44 am

    Oh I do love these! I adore trying to find heirloom varieties like your chocolate cherry tomato, any suggestions?

    • February 14, 2016 at 9:00 am

      Baker Creek is a great choice to locate the seeds – and like you, we love the heirlooms!

      • February 14, 2016 at 9:01 am

        Thank you SO much! 🙂

  • February 14, 2016 at 8:39 am

    Can I order these plants anywhere ?

    • February 14, 2016 at 8:59 am

      Yes – Baker Creek Seeds and Johnnies are two places that we use!

Comments are closed.

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