10+ Heirloom Varieties Professional Growers Know and Love

by Tusha Yakovleva

Grow what the pros grow: heirloom varieties for dependable and generous harvests.

There are some heirloom vegetables that farmers and market gardeners just can’t live without. That's because they are have a trifecta of qualities necessary for market success. They are delicious (the masses agree), produce reliable and generous harvests, and stand strong against pests and disease. To grow a productive homestead garden with hearty harvests from spring to fall, start with these dependable heirlooms:

1. French Breakfast Radish

French Breakfast RadishesFrench Breakfast radishes are reliable with nearly every plant in the row producing useful, well-sized roots. Plus, they're bolt resistant, meaning they can be grown longer into the hot season than other varieties.

 2. Purple Top Turnips

purple top

Purple Top is the traditional turnip for fall harvests, this sweet and creamy root stores well and makes excellent winter comfort meals.

3. Danvers Carrots


Blocky, reliable, and sweet, Danvers is the perfect standard orange carrot to be the back-bone of carrot harvests in spring, summer, and fall.

4. Detroit Dark Red Beet

Detroit Dark RedThis super sweet medium-sized beet is easy to harvest and use through the winter as a storehouse of vitamins and flavor.

5. Spotted Trout Lettuce


Beautifully speckled (as is a trout) Romaine type lettuce, Spotted Trout quickly grows large, bushy, salad-perfect heads.

6. Tall Telephone Pea

tall tele

Some farmers opt out of peas because they need trellising, take a long time to harvest, and can be difficult to plant in spring's wet soil, but Tall Telephone - with its tall vines covered in long pods of plump peas - makes all the trouble worth it.

7. Provider Bean


The name says it all: Provider is the bean to plant for big, delicious green bean harvests.

8. Costata Romanesca Zucchini


Not only is the Costata Romanesca handsome with its stripes and speckles, this large zucchini is deliciously nutty raw and cooked. Plus, it produces tons of male squash flowers: an edible second crop.

9. Waltham Butternut Squash


Waltham Butternuts combine dense, easy-to-peel flesh with the best sweet flavor and creamy texture. They are also one of the best keepers: if well cured and kept cool and dry, they will store well into spring.

10. Marketmore 76


This classic slicer is high-yielding and disease resistant: it's the best bet for crisp, raw cukes all season long.

11. Listada di Gandia Eggplant


This heirloom eggplant has it all: looks, yield and quality. Plants produce beautiful purple and white striped, firm and dry fruits.

12. Tomatoes!

mikadoNo list of heirlooms would be complete without tomatoes: the heirloom vegetable responsible for popularizing the word "heirloom" itself. The world of heirlooms tomatoes is so diverse in flavor, color, size, and taste (not to mention yield and growth habits) that we can't pick just one. Among our reliable market favorites are Green Zebra, Mikado Tomato, and Cherokee Purple, which are as different from each another as it gets.