Polk County Research Garden Outcomes – Spring 2019

— Written By and last updated by 2019 Spring Research Garden Outcomes for Polk

Many Polk County residents will be gearing up to start their spring gardens soon. We have some great news for you: we can help with specific plant recommendations! Last spring, we utilized the Cooperative Extension Research Garden to test multiple varieties of beets, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, and lettuce for our local area.

To guide you in purchasing ideal varieties, we are publishing the results of that research here for you. Here are the 2019 varieties we tested and the outcomes of each variety.

Beets

Variety Tested Outcome
Boro Both grew equally well producing nice tender bulbs with good color. Leaf diseases were minimal.
Zeppo Both grew equally well producing nice tender bulbs with good color. Leaf diseases were minimal.

Broccoli

Variety Tested Outcome
Bluewind Great for spring and fall with an early maturity time. It had a fine bead and is bluish/green in color with a sweet traditional flavor. Produced many side shoots in spring and fall after the main head was cut. Cold and heat tolerant.
Emerald Crown Very uniform plant with a beautiful central head. Flavor was good but not fantastic. The bead was fine with a great green color. Produced very few side shoots so it would be fine for a market garden but not ideal for a continuous harvest.

Carrots

Variety Tested Outcome
Mokum This carrot was the tops in terms of sweetness for our trials. No disease issues and performed well in early spring as well as in summer as the roots got larger. It was unanimous that this was the best carrot we’ve grown.
Sugarsnax This variety didn’t really live up to its name. It is sweet but not nearly as sweet as Mokum. It produced long slender roots of good eating quality. It was also a vigorous plant, making for a beautiful row of carrots but we absolutely liked Mokum better. No disease or insect issues noted in our trials.

Cabbage

Variety Tested Outcome
Tendersweet Large plants that produced large heads. The flavor was sweet with a bit of a bite at the end. Not our favorite for fresh eating but will make a good cooking cabbage or slaw. Great producer in spring heat or fall with minimal disease and insect issues.
Farro Early small cabbage with excellent shape and taste. Very sweet with no bite makes it a good fresh eating cabbage. Minimal disease and insect issues in our trials. Performed well both spring and fall.
Red Express Early maturity for red cabbage with a sweet flavor but had a bit of a bite. Produced large heads for us with about 20% mortality in early spring. Fall production was good, but if you have late fall heat it may bolt. Less insect issues than the green cabbage we grew.

Cauliflower

Variety Tested Outcome
Amazing Not as amazing as it sounds. Lost 30% of plants to wilt issues, not very heat tolerant and the heads were not very sweet. The heads that were produced had an excellent shape and white color for presentation. Overall this was the worst producer in our trials. Minimal insect issues.
Mardi The heads produced were of excellent size and shape with pure white color and a good flavor. Not the best performer we’ve ever grown but above average. Medium heat tolerance in spring but great performer in the fall with early heat. Lost 10% of plants to various issues prior to harvest. Minimal insect issues.
Flame Star This variety was a real star! It is an orange cauliflower with a bit of a later maturity date but it took the heat like a champ. 100% of plants survived to harvest producing large central heads. The flavor was outstanding with a unanimous vote as the best cauliflower in our trials. If you grow this one just be prepared for orange instead of white cauliflower. Minimal insect issues.

Lettuce

Variety Tested Outcome
Salvius (Romaine) Deep green lettuce with crisp hearts. Excellent producer with little waste. Smaller than Coastal Star but more uniform. Sweet but got bitter in the heat like most lettuce. 0% loss to insects/diseases.
Coastal Star (Romaine) Medium to dark green, large plant size with crisp sweet hearts. Uniformity was not the best and got bitter in the heat. First to bolt in our trials. 0% loss to insects/disease.
Thurinus (Romaine) Deep burgundy, medium size with crisp hearts. Sweetest romaine lettuce in our trials. Plants lacked the vigor of green varieties but worth growing for its color and flavor. 10% loss due to wilt. Benefits from well-drained soils.
Crispino (Iceburg) We have tested this for multiple years and it is a consistent producer. Does well in warm weather but will bolt in hot temps. Medium heads that have a great flavor. Prone to twisted leaves causing 20% of heads to not be as firm as they should. Aphids proved to be the main pest in our trials (controlled with a little soapy water.)

Would you like to have this information at your fingertips when ordering your seeds for spring planting? Drop by the N.C. Cooperative Extension of Polk County to pick up a copy of the full 2019 Spring Research Garden Outcomes brochure.