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For vegetable gardening success, K-State recommended varieties consistently shine

OLATHE, Kan. – K-State Research and Extension has updated its recommendations of vegetable varieties that have consistently proven themselves to be hearty, resistant to drought and disease, while producing good amounts of fruit.

These last few weeks of winter are a time of planning and preparation for home gardeners. Gardening catalogs arrive in mailboxes, while email accounts are filled with special offers from online retailers.

“I have so much admiration for the copywriters that write those three- or four-sentence descriptions found in gardening catalogs,” said Dennis Patton, horticultural agent for K-State Research and Extension’s Johnson County office. “Everything’s wonderful, juicy, flavorful, ‘performs better than the next.’ “

“You never pick up a garden catalog and read ‘this variety of tomato is a dog, it won’t produce.’”

That’s not to throw shade on seed catalogs — they couldn’t stay in business very long if they consistently sold poor products. It’s not that a new variety of tomato is a risk because it may not produce; the bigger question is, “where will it grow best?”

“Kansas has ever-changing weather patterns and conditions,” Patton said. “We may start the day as hot or cold or wet or dry, and all that can change within a matter of 24 or 48 hours.”

Vegetable and plant varieties recommended by K-State Research and Extension have been tested in many of the research farms scattered across Kansas. “These are varieties that we know, through repeated plantings, consistently perform well year in and year out. That’s a solid first step on the road to success.”

In addition to visiting your nearest extension office for a list of these vegetable varieties, there are some electronic options. The official list ofRecommended Vegetable Varieties (https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/l41.pdf ) has been maintained for many years, and was updated in October 2017. The Horticulture Information Center maintains a list of recommended plants (http://hnr.k-state.edu/extension/info-center/recommended-plants/) that covers not only vegetables, but fruits, ornamentals, trees and more. Finally, if you want an in-depth look at a particular vegetable, start with this list of available vegetable publications   (https://hnr.k-state.edu/extension/publications/vegetables.html)

Patton added that there’s no reason to completely ignore those seed catalogs.

“Make the K-State varieties the backbone of your garden, and maybe save space for one or two new things that interest you. There are so many unique, unusual fruits and vegetables out there — go ahead and put something new in, add a little bit of variety,” he said.

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