Kitchen Gardening

Vegetable Gardening Made Easier

Every season the seed and plant catalogs tempt vegetable gardeners with dozens of new varieties.

The Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners website has a searchable database of more than 6000 different varieties for home gardens.
Photo/Illustration: Cornell University

If there are vegetable gardeners that haven’t tapped into the wisdom of other gardeners, I haven’t met them. In a tradition as old as the first kitchen garden, gardeners turn to one another to ask about solving gardening challenges, get recommendations on new varieties, and share their tips for success. 

Gardeners meet and greet at garden club meetings, master gardener volunteer events, community gardens and summer garden parties. They can also meet online to share their experience with gardeners spread far and wide. I was able to ask the network for tomatoes to try and found some that I wouldn’t have found on my own. 

One trusted resource for vegetable gardening information that takes advantage of a giant seed bank of knowledge is Cornell University’s Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners. There are ratings and reviews of more than 6000 vegetable varieties, all contributed by other home gardeners.

This repository of gardening information is a citizen science project. Citizen scientists are backyard researchers that are the extra hands that real researchers use to collect data that help answer real-world questions about plants, insects, birds and other animals. 

Any gardener can search Cornell’s website by vegetable and the database will sort varieties by the highest ratings. Detailed descriptions and seed sources are also included. It’s free to create a profile and log in to limit results to your state or growing season. And add your own reviews, too. 

I’ve used the database to browse for heat-resistant and disease-resistant cabbage varieties, what’s trending as the top hot pepper, and some new summer squash varieties I want to plant this year.

Cornell University also provides 58 vegetable growing guides as part of its Garden-Based Learning center. Each guide offers growing instructions, site and soil requirements, suggested varieties and controls for the most common insect pests and plant diseases. 

How do you tap into the expertise of other vegetable gardeners? Please share your ideas here.

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