Vegetable All-Stars

Growing vegetables in Alaska has its challenges for gardeners from cold soils to a short three-month growing season. Yet there are plenty of opportunities to produce a successful harvest. Armed with long summer days, Alaska gardeners can grow vegetables faster and bigger than what's found in Lower 48 gardens. (Think 14-inch heads of broccoli, 80-pound cabbages and zucchini the size of baseball bats.) Another key to success is choosing the right varieties that are known to grow best for the region. Here are some of the top picks for vegetable all-stars, recommended by master gardeners and agriculture and horticulture specialists from across the state.

Top picks for the Interior region

By Michele H├ębert and Taylor Maida, University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service

Beets

Variety: Detroit Dark Red (1)

Broccoli

Variety: Waltham; Green Comet; Premium Crop; Marathon

Cabbage

Variety: O-S Cross (2)(These are the champions seen at the Alaska State Fair.)

Carrots

Variety: Scarlet Nantes

Cauliflower

Variety: Snow Crown (3)

Kale

Variety: Toscano Kohlrabi Early Purple Vienna; Early White Vienna; Green Duke; Superschmelz

Peas

Variety: Oregon Giant

Rhubarb

Variety: Canada Red

Snap Beans

Variety: Provider (4)

Swiss Chard

Variety: Bright Lights (6)

Tomato

Variety: Oregon Spring (5) (These really ripen outside.)

Zucchini

Variety: Black Knight

Photos courtesy of: www.harrisseeds.com (1, 3 & 4); neseed.com (2); www.johnnyseeds.com (5 & 6)

Top picks for Mat-Su Valley region

By Pat Tremaine, master gardener

Broccoli

Variety: Veronica "brocco-flower" (1) or Romanesco (A cross between broccoli and cauliflower, it's great to roast with onions, add in soups, or eat as is.)

Carrot

Variety: Nantes

Collard

Variety: Georgia (Very delicious.)

Kohlrabi

Variety: Grand Duke (Very crunchy and delicious.)

Leek

Variety: King Richard

Lettuce

Variety: Buttercrunch (2) ; Red or Green Oakleaf

Onion

Variety: Candy (3) (Very sweet variety.)

Peas

Variety: Sugar snap (Very sweet variety); Oregon Sugar (4)

Tomato

Variety: Tumbling Tom

Photos courtesy of: Pat Tremaine (1); www.harrisseeds.com (2 & 4); www.johnnyseeds.com (3)

Top picks for Southeastern region

By Darren Snyder of UAF CES

Beets

Variety: Formanova; Little Egypt; Early Wonder; Little Ball

Carrots

Variety: Nantes Coreless and Half Long; Scarlet Nantes (1) ; Red Cord Chantenay

Garlic

Variety: Hardneck (Grown in clusters with no central stems. They grow really well and have great flavor.)

Kale

Variety: Nearly all varieties do well. (These are reliable, harvestable into the fall, and very nutritious. People are always trying out different ways of preparing it.) Tuscan or Dinosaur (4)

Parsnips

Variety: Hollow Crown Improved; All American

Potatoes

Variety: Kennebec (3) ; Green Mountain; Red Pontiac; Netted Gem; and Alaska 114 (These generally grow in great production all throughout Alaska. They grow really well in the cool and wet southeast region.)

Turnips

Variety: Tokyo Cross; Purple Top White Globe (2)

Photos courtesy of: www.harrisseeds.com (1 & 2); www.burpee.com (3 & 4)

Top picks for the Southwestern region

By Leif Albertson of UAF CES

Beets

Variety: Red Ace (3)

Broccoli

Variety: Marathon (2)

Cabbage

Variety: Farao

Carrots

Variety: Napoli

Cauliflower

Variety: Early Snowball

Kale

Variety: Winterbor

Lettuce

Variety: Deer Tongue

Potatoes

Variety: German Butterball

Spinach

Variety: Tyee (1)

Turnips*

Variety: Hakurei (4)

*In Bethel, the turnip is considered a specialty crop, notes Leif Albertson of UAF CES. "We do grow the best turnips, probably in the world."

All photos courtesy of www.johnnyseeds.com