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Best Vegetables to Grow in California

California Vegetable Picks


Top Pick

 

‘Goldmine’ zucchini has a distinctive, nutty flavor

Days to maturity: 50

More unique than a green zucchini and more refined than a yellow crookneck, ‘Goldmine’ is a handsome summer squash with sunshine yellow skin that’s fringed with white stripes. It has the nutty flavor and creamy texture you’d expect from a zucchini. It’s best to pick the fruits when they’re about 2 inches long, with the flower still attached, though they taste great up to about 5 to 6 inches long. Plant them at the front of a raised bed, and let the plants flop over the face of the bed both to conserve space and for dramatic effect. Like most squash plants, Goldmine’ zucchini is susceptible to powdery mildew, but I’ve had good success controlling it with potassium bicarbonate. It’s common to see squash leaves droop in the midday sun, even when they have enough water, but as long as they’re perked up in the morning, your plants should be fine.

 

‘Rattlesnake’ pole bean

Days to maturity: 60 (fresh); 90 (dried)

I was introduced to this exceptional pole bean by Territorial Seed Company and initially grew it for its electric purple striping. After growing the variety for a full season, though, I was hooked not only on the beans’ beauty but also its vigor and flavor.

I grow my beans on trellises or pole tepees from April to August. Direct-sow two to three of the bespeckled seeds per pole with bean inoculant, which promotes root development. Typically, you don’t have to thin pole beans, but I like to top errant vines or train them back down the tepee. For a high yield, tender textures, and the best flavor, harvest the fresh beans before you can see the bumps of the seeds forming. Alternatively, let the beans fully form on the vine for drying and storing.

 

‘Calliope’ eggplant

Days to maturity: 65

In Greek mythology, Calliope is the muse with the most beautiful voice; similarly, it’s easy to sing the praises of this exceptional eggplant. With a spineless calyx and striking purple and white striping, this variety is as ornamental as it is delicious. These smaller Asian-style fruits are best when picked around 2 inches long, and once the harvest begins, these abundant aubergines can continue to produce into early fall. When the temperatures start to rise in July, watch out for spider mites and flea beetles, which can be tough to manage organically.

 

‘Carmello’ tomato

Days to maturity: 70 to 75

Along with the ever-popular ‘Sungold’, the globe-shaped ‘Carmello’ will redefine everything you think you know about hybrid tomatoes. This esteemed French market variety has the early harvest, abundant production, and disease hardiness that one would expect from a hybrid but with excellent sweet, floral tomato flavor far exceeding similar slicing types.

With such a long growing season, we stick with indeterminate, or vining, tomato varieties like ‘Carmello’ for their ongoing yield late into the season. Summer
temperatures climb over 90°F for days at a time in our climate, but we stave
off blossom drop, sun scald, and other heat stress with floating row covers or shade cloths.

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