For years Cornell Cooperative Extension staff on campus have produced a list of recommended vegetable varieties for home gardeners in New York state. But with so many new varieties introduced each year that list had become more and more difficult to keep tested and current. They decided the best way they could help gardeners choose varieties would be to engage them directly through a new Web site.
Now that so many people have computers at home and access to them at public libraries, were encouraging anyone who grows any veggies at all to check it out this new way of reviewing vegetables. The site makes you an essential part of the process by giving you a way to share your own gardening experience with fellow gardeners. You can compare different varieties (over 3000 are listed!) and learn about new varieties you might want to try. The comments are from gardeners around the state and even across the country but you can easily sift through for comments from gardeners who have similar growing conditions to yours.
Visitors are Welcome
While anyone can visit the site and get lots of information, the real benefit to you comes once you register your own profile, anonymously of course. When you register you include information on your growing season, number of frost-free days, soil type and sun exposure. This lets you to then sort the site for comments from gardeners with similar growing conditions to yours.
Registering is quite easy, there are just a few questions to answer and theres even a handy pop-up map showing average frost free days for the whole state of New York.
I encourage first time visitors to take couple of minutes to visit the link on the home page How to use this site. It will give you some tips on how to navigate through the site and give you an idea of all the functions the site has to offer.
For example, if you just ask the site to list the entries for tomatoes youll get a list of over 600 varieties! But on the left side of that screen is a box that lets you refine your search for tomatoes. Click on that and then you can define the type of tomato, early or mid season and whether or not its an heirloom variety. I asked it for early-season grape tomatoes and the list was shortened to 16 varieties, much easier to review.
Rate Your Varieties
Were encouraging all vegetable gardeners to visit the site and log in your own comments. The site relies on these comments so the more it gets, the more helpful the site is going to be. Once you register your own profile you can rate any variety you want from 1 to 5 stars on various qualities. Theres also a place for you to write comments. These comments are very interesting and sometimes entertaining to read.
The site address is http://vegvariety.cce.cornell.edu/ but if you forget the address just go to Google and type in vegetable varieties. The first listing is this Cornell site. We also have the link to this site on our local gardening site http://ecgardening.cce.cornell.edu .
The site also includes links to other Cornell gardening resources, including online growing guides for more than 60 garden crops. On the sites home page look for the list on the left side which includes Browse Crops, Growing Guides, Cornell Gardening Info, Site News and Polls, and How to Use This Site.
Browse Crops lists all the crops by type (broccoli, garlic, etc) and you just click on the name of the crop to get the list of varieties. Growing Guides takes you to the Explore Cornell site with lots of user-friendly information on how to grow 58 different kinds of garden vegetables. Cornell Gardening Info takes you to the sites at Cornell specific to home vegetable gardening as well as some other links.
So now that the vegetable season is over for the year, take a little time to record your own experiences with different varieties on this site and see if other gardeners had similar or different experiences than you. Its a fun way to learn and help others, too!