List of Heirloom Varieties to Grow in the Garden This Year - Melissa K. Norris

List of Heirloom Varieties to Grow in the Garden This Year

By Melissa Norris | Gardening

Jan 08

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One of the most asked questions I get is what specific variety of plants we use on the homestead. So in today’s episode, we’re diving into all the varieties of plants we grow in our garden! Before I tell you the exact specific varieties that we grow here on my homestead. I do need to preface by saying that the varieties that I picked specifically for my more cooler northern climate. I live in the specific northwest of Washington State. We’re about an hour and a half from the Canadian border in the foothills of the cascade mountain range. This means that I have about 150 days of warm weather growing time (regular summer annual vegetable garden).

The reason why I preface this is because it’s so important to find the correct varieties that will do well and thrive in your region and climate. 

Listen in below to the full podcast, Episode #229 Full List of Heirloom Varieties to Grow in the Garden This Year of the Pioneering Today Podcast, where we don’t just inspire you, but give you the clear steps to create the homegrown garden, pantry, kitchen, and life you want for your family and homestead.

I don’t have a variety for every crop listed as I’m still testing out some varieties on certain crops until I find “the one”. The ones below we’ve grown for several years/seasons and are my standby’s. 

It is also important to note that all of the varieties that we use and that are listed out are heirloom. Also, please note that the amount of each variety that I plant is for the year based on my family’s needs and how much we eat. To find out how much to plant for YOUR family based on your climate and needs, click here to get the worksheets with The Family Garden Plan.

Full List of Heirloom Varieties to Grow in the Garden This Year

Acorn Squash – Table Queen 

I usually do 4-5 plants. 

We love acorn squash. We love to use it as a side. I like to prepare it with a little bit of butter and brown sugar and a dash of cinnamon. 

Tarheel Green Pole Bean 

I’m sharing this variety with you, but this specific variety isn’t available since my family has been seed saving for over 100+ years. I don’t sell this variety but it is a bonus given to members of the Pioneering Today Academy in the Spring. 

I usually do 30-40 beans plants, which ends up being about 3 teepees.

Shell Bean – October Bean

Again, this is a bean my family has seed saved for over 100+ years, I believe it’s similar to a cranberry bean. I love this bean because it is meatier than a pinto bean and has a great texture. It is mild and creamier texture.

I usually do about 15-20 plants.

Beet – Crosby’s Egyptian and Early Wonder 

I love both these varieties for fresh eating and pickling. I love eating my beets picked. My husband and daughter like them, but don’t eat them as I do. Finally, my son doesn’t like beets at all, but I get him to eat beets because I add them in when I make a chocolate cake. (Let’s keep that between you and me!)

I succession plant our beets to make sure we always have some planted. For a year we normally do 50-60 plants. 

Brussels Sprouts – Long Island Improved 

This one has done fabulous for us and we’ve been growing it for 3 years now. My family LOVES brussel sprouts.

I usually plant 16-18 plants

Butternut Squash – Waltham 

I usually do 1-2 hills, which normally ends up being 6-8 plants

Carrot- Danvers Half Long 

I love this variety. Sometimes they get larger because I don’t get them pulled up in time because they overwinter beautifully. Compared to other varieties that I’ve tried these don’t get woody in the center. I also don’t have any issues germinating these.

I usually do succession planting to these as well. I don’t have specific amounts of seeds for this because they are so tiny, but I’m going to guess 30-40 carrots. 

Cucumber- Chicago Pickling 

I like this variety because it acts like a dual-purpose cucumber meaning that it tastes great fresh eating wise. This is also a great pickling cucumber as it doesn’t get overly big and they stay crisp. It is fairly prolific.

I usually do about 9 plants.

Kale – Blue Curled Scotch 

I like the curly kale and it tends to grow really well for me. It makes the best kale chips. I can harvest through the winter. My kale is pretty prolific so I usually do about 4-6 plants.

Onion- Copra 

This yellow onion has great flavor. This is a long day variety which means that it needs quite a few hours of sunlight. Because of this, I plant in late Spring. My favorite this about this variety is that it is a storage onion. I usually grow 50 onions and is almost an onion a week. So when I harvest my onions and let the cure. I need to make sure that they store well in my pantry cured, dried, and braided. I also need to make sure that they don’t sprout, rot, or turn to mush. 

Pea- Sugar Snap 

I love snap peas because they are crunchy and I can grow them in the Spring and Fall. I usually grow 10 plants.

Pepper – King of the North (red bell pepper)

Keep in mind that I can pick these when they are green, but if I let them mature on the vine they’ll turn into the red bell pepper. I usually do about 6-10 plants.

Lipstick (sweet red pepper) 

This is an Italian sweet pepper. I love growing this variety as I can roast them, tomato sweet pepper soup. I originally got this seed from Baker Creek, but from that, I began seed saving. I usually plant 3-4 of this variety. 

Pumpkin- New England Sugar Pie 

This is a small pumpkin, but they have sweeter flesh. I roast the seeds as well. I dice can and store this pumpkin. I usually do 2 hills, which is about 6-8 plants. I love doing pumpkin rolls and pumpkin soup. I don’t love pumpkin pie but still bakes these during the holidays.

Tomato- San Marzano Lungo 2 (paste variety) 

This does well for me. I usually plant 18-20 plants. They are great prolific and producers, which is great since I use can these tomatoes for stews, pasta sauce, pizza sauce as well as fresh eating.

Zucchini- Black Beauty

My family has tried different varieties but we always come back to this type. I usually plant 6 plants as they are prolific. I don’t can zucchini very much, but do flash freeze them as well as dehydrate them. We mostly eat them fresh.


Resources from Episode #229 

Episode #228 Where to Buy Heirloom Seeds – Heirloom, Hybrid & GMO Differences

Episode #227 Seed Packet Information – How to Read Seed Packets for Gardening Success

Grow more in your garden this year with my new book The Family Garden Plan: Grow a Year’s Worth of Sustainable and Healthy Food

Order the Family Garden Plan: Raise a Year’s Worth of Sustainable and Healthy Food and all the bonuses to grow your food here . You’ll learn cold frames and season extenders, composting, and so much more!


About the Author

Melissa K. Norris inspires people's faith and pioneer roots with her books, podcast, and blog. Melissa lives with her husband and two children in their own little house in the big woods in the foothills of the North Cascade Mountains. When she's not wrangling chickens and cattle, you can find her stuffing Mason jars with homegrown food and playing with flour and sugar in the kitchen.

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