Best of 2021

To date our family has done three blind vegetable taste tests, and they’ve yielded some surprising results. They’ve also resulted in me planning ahead and buying seeds for next year, to ensure I have the varieties I want.

This is what it looks like right after we do taste tests–I go online to order a bunch of seeds of our favorite varieties and then, well, order some other things too. One can never have too many seeds or vegetables.

The Best of 2021

What I most want to hear is what YOU thought were the best varieties of 2021. What were your favorite tomatoes, to grow and to eat? Peppers? Beans? Cucumbers? Melons? Squashes? Pumpkins? Herbs? Any duds? Any surprises? Please let me know!

As for the Benton family, here’s where we netted:

Citrine, Best of the 2021 Cherry Tomatoes.

Cherry Tomatoes:

  1. Citrine
  2. Sun Gold
  3. Sakura
  4. Artemis
  5. Tidy Treats
  6. Yellow Pear

While Tidy Treats scored lowish compared to others, I must note that my Tidy Treats plants are still producing all over the garden in mid-November. They’ll have a place in my garden next year because a) they still may be around from this year, b) they really are tidy–a highly productive compact dwarf and c) they taste great, just not as great as some of the super stars. Citrine is just stunning in flavor. Several friends say they eat them like candy. Me too.

Some of this summer’s tomatoes, including Yellow Brandywine, Black Krim, San Marzano 2 (a favorite paste tomato), Lucid Gem (in the center) and Costoluto Genovese.

Bigger Tomatoes:

This taste test was a little more involved and included a few teenage boys who typically don’t love tomatoes. I’ll go from least to most favorite for dramatic effect.

8. Costoluto Genovese. While incredibly gorgeous, with deep ribbing and waxy deep red color, these weren’t as thrilling in flavor.

7. Peppermint Stripes. This dwarf tomato looks cool but the taste was “meh” according to our testers.

6. Black Krim. This is another gorgeous heirloom tomato and they are HUGE. They’re juicy and a great candidate for putting on a burger, but they weren’t as tasty as others on their own.

5. Sneaky Sauce. These are sauce tomatoes, so it’s not really a fair comparison with some of the others, but it still did pretty well with a classic tomato flavor.

4. Yellow Brandywine. Yes, I was able to grow this gorgeous heirloom tomato. They are incredibly beautiful, between a yellow and an orange, perfectly shaped and pretty large with a “citrusy” flavor according to on of our testers.

3. GinFiz. This is a hybrid from Johnny’s that’s supposed to improve upon Yellow Brandywine, and it did. Tasters loved this, saying it was extremely flavorful with a peach-like taste.

2. Purple Cherokee. This heirloom was “vibrant” and “tasty” according to our testers.

And the winner is…Lucid Gem. This variety came from San Diego Seed Company and it was remarkable–the favorite by far. One tester called it the “best he’s ever had.” It also possesses beautiful streaks of yellow, orange and pink.

Other Favorites

Here are some other favorites across categories that you’ll see in my garden (and in seedling sales) in the spring.

Holy Basil – I love the smell of it throughout the garden.

Mark It 8 Dude Cucumber – A San Diego Seed Company (SDSC) original — super productive.

Lemon Balm – Another new favorite herb this year (like Holy Basil). It smells delightful and is easy to grow.

Cornito Rosso Pepper – The winner of our 2020 Thanksgiving Pepper Taste Test. These are also hearty. I have a second-year plant that I overwintered last year that is producing beautifully in the garden right now.

Padron Pepper – A new trial this year and a new favorite. I loved these sauteed.

Blaze Pumpkin – These produced generously with gorgeous orange and yellow stripes.

Apricot Strawflower – I don’t know what to say about these. I took so many photos of these flowers. They are beautiful, whimsical and prolific.

Dunja Zucchini – The best of the best. The perfect zucchini. I have a plant STILL growing and producing in the garden right now.

Tetsukabuto Winter Squash – Tesukabuto is Japanese for “iron helmet.” These winter squash feel like they’re made of iron–they’re heavy and solid and produce yummy flavors. They’re also incredibly easy to grow (so long as you plant two or more together for cross-pollination). These winter squash are still growing and producing vigorously in mid-November in our garden.

Queen Red Lime Zinnia – These flowers touched my heart and soul. They are absolute magic.

What were your favorites this year? Please do drop me a note and let me know.

Dear Apricot Strawflowers, I love you.