Increase your chance at gardening success this year! Opt for the vegetable varieties Connecticut farmers choose themselves for disease resistance, bountiful harvest, and flavor.

Victoria Schaefer Photo

Victoria Schaefer Photo

No need to worry about starting seeds inside… some of the easiest veggies to grow have seed that can be sown directly into garden soil in the spring. The earliest planting time is “as soon as the soil can be worked.” Seeds can rot if planted too early in cold, water-logged soil. If soil is sticking to your tools… a spade comes out clumped with mud, or a handful of soil formed into a ball holds together and requires pressure to break apart, it’s still too early to plant.

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Ashley Caroline Photographer

If you have packets of seeds from previous years, they may still be viable. Lettuce and radish seeds will germinate for up to 5 years, for example, while leek seeds are good for only 1. Check an online Seed Viability Chart or try a seed germination test: Space 10 seeds on a damp paper towel, roll it up and place in a plastic bag. Leave it in a warm spot in the house… lighting doesn’t matter. After 2-5 days, check to see how many seeds have germinated. That percentage will give you a pretty good idea of how the same seed will do in your garden.

Ashley Caroline Photographer

Ashley Caroline Photographer

Fire up that last-minute online seed ordering! Here are some tried and true recommendations from experienced farmers, with grower’s notes. Happy growing, Gardeners!

Phil Griffin, Apis Verde Farm: Lemon Cucumbers – Great taste. Prolific. Stand up better to cucumber beetles. Pick while young and tender with a pale yellow-green color.

Mark Pailthorpe, Falls Creek Farm: French Filet Beans – Maxibel , Concador and Velour – Reliable germination, no disease problems, prolific, fantastic flavor. Great color: geen, yellow and purple.

Brian Kelliher, Easy Pickin’s: Sugar Snap PeasSugar Anne – Early. Shorter vine, no need to trellis. Pods fairly stringless with good flavor and no disease problems.

RadishesAmethyst, a beautiful purple; Ping Pong, a clean white; Pink Beauty, a pretty pink; Cherriette, red. Well-shaped varieties that hold appearance and flavor well even into the warmer weather.

Spring TurnipsJapanese Hakurei for flavor, texture and appearance.

Wayne Hansen, Wayne’s Organic Garden: Sugar Snap PeasCascadia, larger pods, very tasty; Snow PeasOregon Giant, peas sweet and tender even when pods are huge and a bit swollen; Shelling PeasMaestro, easy to tell when the pod is full.

CJ Pogmore, Bluebird Hill Farm: Summer SquashMultipik (yellow) and Reward (zucchini). Produce like crazy. Excellent disease resistance.

Mitchel Colgan, Community Farm of Simsbury: Rattlesnake Pole Beans, beautiful and delicious. Can be harvested young as snap beans or left on the vine and harvested as dry beans.

ZucchiniRonde de Nice, bushlike, smaller plant. Very productive. Small, round fruit, classic taste.

Max Taylor, Provider Farm: BeetsRed Ace, consistent producer. Big. Greens taste great.

Spring CarrotsNelson, sweet, crunchy. Grow straight and long.

Summer CarrotsRomance, stellar disease resistance desirable for summer growing.

 Virginia Keith, Blueberry Hill Organic Farm: Organic Astro Arugula: Johnny’s Selected Seeds, germination rate excellent, grows quickly, nice large leaves, very flavorful, no/little pest or disease problems.

Organic Pink Beauty Radish: Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Germinates quickly, will provide a nice crop of radishes for at least a month, taste great, nice and crispy and don’t get woody/pithy in the center, no pest or disease problems.

Organic Caribe Cilantro: High Mowing Seeds, grows quickly, very hardy, keeps producing until the heat of summer, great flavor, long refrigerator life.