This is a list of the garden vegetable varieties that I am growing in my garden in 2020. I’ll give you little snippets of why I chose those varieties for my garden zone 8a in South Carolina and also links to more info on growing those veggies, in case you’re a bit overwhelmed with the planning of your garden this year.
Being Excited for My 2020 Vegetable Garden
Oh man, it’s only January and I am SO excited to start planting! Any other obsessed and happy gardeners getting all fidgety about planting your 2020 vegetable garden yet?
I have a tradition where I plan my garden (here’s how I plan my garden) on New Year’s Day. That’s when I order my seeds from various organic/heirloom seed companies (here’s a list of my favorite organic seed companies). I ALWAYS order seeds from different companies, not only to ‘spread the love’ and support multiple awesome companies, but also because I feel a bit vulnerable putting all my trust in one company for all my seeds after my poor gardening season fiasco.
This year, I ordered seeds from 3 different companies: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Seed Savers Exchange, and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. I’ve also got some leftover seeds that are still fresh from last year (here’s how I test the viability of old seeds) from some of these seed companies and also from Johnny’s Selected Seeds.
The chosen seed companies were impressively on-track this year, and it’s only been a little over a week and I’ve got ALL these seeds staring at me. Oh my, what a glorious sight. I think the thing I love most about this time of the year is the excitement and optimism for the upcoming gardening year. At this very moment, my brain thinks that I am gonna be able to grow all these beautiful seeds with 100% success and I’ll be overflowing with bountiful harvests in the fall. I’m not in the mood to be a realist right now. I’ll just keep drooling at this pile of seeds and jumping for joy around the house.
My 2020 Garden Vegetable Varieties
Enough blabbering from me. You came here to learn what garden vegetable varieties I am gonna grow in my garden this year. PLEASE tell me about your garden plans in the comments! I love getting a glimpse into other people’s gardens.
I grow both bush beans and pole beans in my garden every year. I have done lima beans before, but I didn’t have the space this year.
Bush Bean Varieties: I’ve got some leftover Calima beans that I’ll use up. They did pretty well last year, though they did have an attack of Mexican bean beetles at one point, and I’m not sure if this variety is vulnerable to them or it was just bad luck, but I’ve never had issues with bean beetles before. So I’m doing half Calima and then I’m trying a new variety: Dragon Tongue Beans! I’m super excited to try them. It’s a cool name and they look really pretty: with stripes of purple and yellow.
Pole Beans Variety: I’m trying a totally funky and new variety of pole beans this year. It’s called Long Bean Chinese Red Noodle. The beans get almost 2 feet long! And they are purple and tolerate heat and humidity, which we have in surplus here in South Carolina summers. Can’t wait to try this variety!
Beets Variety: I usually grow Red Ace Beets, but I thought I’d be daring this year and try Golden Beets for a new look. They are bright yellow and it’s an heirloom from before the 1820s which makes me smile.
Carrots Varieties: About 5 years ago, I went “carrot crazy” and purchase 6 (!!) different carrot varieties. I’m *finally* finishing off the last packet so I got to purchase a new variety to try this year again. Yay! I’ll be finishing up my very successful Nutri-Red Carrots variety packet (still viable after 5 years!) and I’ll be growing Purple Dragon Carrots as a new variety this year, too. I love non-orange carrots apparently!
Celery Varieties: I took last year off from growing celery due to lack of gardening space, so I’m pretty excited to grow them again this year! I’ll be growing two different types to compare/contrast how the varieties do for me. Tall Utah Celery is your standard looking celery, and I’ll be growing a funky and very pretty Giant Red Celery, which is an old-fashioned variety from England.
Cucumber Variety: Every other year, I either grow pickling cucumbers or slicing cucumbers. Last year, I had a good pickling cucumber harvest. So this year, I’ll be growing the slicing cucumber type that you eat raw or on salads. Japanese Long Cucumbers are those types at the grocery store that are long and skinny and contain less seeds. It’s my first year growing this variety and I’m looking forward to seeing how they do!
“Fruit” Varieties: Okay, this is in quotes because real fruit are perennials that take forever to grow before they finally give you produce. But you can also get annual nightshade family plants that yield a fruit that you can use to make yummy jams and pies. A few years ago, I grew 3 garden huckleberries plants, which gave me more jam than I ever could need in my lifetime (they made great Christmas gifts). Now I’m ready to try another nightshade family annual “fruit”: Schwarzbeeren Blackberry. They are supposed to taste like blackberries, so I’m looking forward to trying them!
Greens Varieties: Confession: I don’t like eating normal lettuces. My heart belongs to arugula. I’ve got 1/4 pound of arugula seeds to sow in my garden for the year. Here are my expert tips to having an almost year-long arugula growing season. I’m also growing Byrd Mustard Greens. I eat mustard greens both raw and cooked with some bacon. Yum.
Kale Varieties: I LOVE kale. I’ll be trying a new (to me) kale variety this year: Tronchuda Kale. They are supposed to be more heat-tolerant than most kales, so it will be fun to see if I can eat kale even in our 100 degree August. I also continue to use my favorite kale variety, Siberian Kale, from the seeds I save from my own plants.
Pea Variety: In theory, sugar snap peas do better in South Carolina’s climate than snow peas. But I love snow peas more, so every year I try to grow a different variety of snow peas. I have a nice medium-sized crop every year, but I’m big on experimenting and I’m looking for a HUGE harvest. Some day, I’ll find my Perfect Snow Pea variety. Maybe this will be the year! I’ll be trying Green Beauty Snow Peas, a variety that boasts to having “vigorous vines…[that] yield plentiful amounts of pods”. We shall see!
Hot Pepper Varieties: Okay, I must admit here that I am a spice-o-holic. I LOVE hot peppers. So I grow what might seem like insane amounts of hot peppers every year. And I like trying new ones (as well as keeping the classics) every year, too. So here’s a glimpse at the hot peppers I’ll be growing this year:
- Ancho Poblano: I love these medium-heat peppers, but they don’t yield very well over here. I keep trying, though! I’ll be growing two plants.
- Brazilian Starfish: A NEW variety for me this year. They look very pretty and are bright orange. They should be medium heat, so I’ll grow two plants.
- Carolina Cayenne: A very heavy yielding pepper plant that will give me more cayenne peppers for drying than I can use in a year. One plant needed only!
- Craig’s Grande Jalapeno: I usually grow El Jefe Jalapenos, but I thought I would try a new variety. My favorite hot pepper, I’ll be growing four plants.
- Habanero: Every year, I can’t resist growing ONE habanero (you only need one!). And every year, I’m swimming in more habaneros than I could ever eat or even dry and I tell myself to take a year off. Too bad! I’m growing it again! After all, what’s salsa without some spicy habanero?!
- Hungarian Hot Wax: A hot banana pepper variety, I tried it for the first time last year and it was really good. Perfect in place of jalapenos for poppers! I’ll be growing either 1 or 2 plants.
- Serano: A few years ago, I planted both serano and jalapeno. The slugs demolished the seranos, and I was glad to have a great jalapeno crop. The year after that, the opposite happened, and I was super fortunate to have seranos to replace jalapenos in my recipes. So the lesson I learned is to grow BOTH serano and jalepeno, because they are interchangable in recipes and the pests seem to only both one type a year for some reason. I grow Hot Rod F1 Serano variety and I’ll plant 3 or 4 plants.
- Thai Red Chili: I LOVE Thai food and the recipes often call for dried Thai chili peppers. So this year, I’ll be trying to grow them for the first time. I’ll either grow 1 or 2 plants.
Spinach Varieties: Classic spinach varieties don’t do very well with our South Carolina heat. Instead, I grow a bunch of non-true spinaches that taste just like them. I’ll be growing Strawberry Spinach which has mild pretty berries and leaves that can be cooked like spinach. I’ll also be growing New Zealand Spinach, which is a really pretty plant whose leaves also cook up like spinach. Finally, I’ll be trying a new variety: Red Malabar Spinach, which is super intriguing because it’s a heat-loving vine with pretty red stems and spinach-type leaves. That will be fun to try!
Sweet Pepper Varieties: Every year, I try a different variety of sweet peppers and most of them do not like our South Carolina heat. But I keep trying. Because it’s kinda silly to make homemade salsa with garden-grown hot peppers and grocery-store sweet peppers. Here are the sweet peppers I’ll be trying this year:
- Bull Nose (Large Sweet Spanish): I tried these last year with limited success. I’ll try them again mainly because I still have some seeds available. I’ll plant either 1 or 2 plants.
- Cubanelle: This is a new variety I am trying this year. Apparently, many southern climates grow these instead of bell peppers with good success. Fingers crossed these work! I’ll be growing 3 or 4 of these plants.
- Golden Marconi: These did okay for me last year, so I’ll be using up the packet. They were really tasty so I hope I can get them to give me more peppers this year! I’ll plant 2 plants.
- Sweet Chocolate Bell Pepper: These have failed me two years in a row. But dang it, I am determined! I’ll try growing only 1 plant, so I don’t waste space in the garden.
Sweet Potato Variety: I usually grow Beauregard Sweet Potatoes but I thought I would try a new variety this year, appropriately called Carolina Ruby Sweet Potato. I mean, how can I go wrong with a Carolina named variety in my South Carolina garden?
Radish Varieties: I love radishes! They are one of my favorite spring vegetables (and here’s how I love to eat them). I’ll be growing Cherry Belle Radishes, as well as Easter Egg Radishes, and finally Early Scarlett Globe Radishes. That SHOULD be enough types to satisfy my radish cravings. 🙂
Tomato Varieties: I am trying a bunch of new varieties of tomatoes this year, just because I love experimenting with them! There are so many different types of tomatoes, it makes my head spin. So I like to try a different 1-3 types every year until I find my favorites. For sure, no matter what, I’ll be growing my Five Star Grape F1 Grape Tomatoes variety. My hubby and friends can’t get enough of them. They do really well down here and are SO flavorful. They do so well, in fact, that I will only grow 2 of them because they give me so much fruit. But I’ll also be trying Brad’s Atomic Grape Grape Tomatoes this year. They look so funky, I just couldn’t resist the purchase! They are all sorts of crazy colors. I’ll only grow one plant since otherwise I’ll be drowning in grape tomatoes.
I’ll be trying German Pink Tomatoes for my slicing tomatoes this year. You know, the ones you put on BLTs. You DO eat thousands of BLT sandwiches every summer, right? Haha, oops. This is a new variety for me, but it’s a popular type, so I’m sure they will do well. I’ll grow 3 or 4 plants of them.
Finally, I’ll be growing San Marzon Lungo No. 2 Paste Tomatoes for canning. Someone I know in the area grew this variety last year and had pounds and pounds of tomatoes. So I’ll plant either 5 or 6 of them so I can get a lot of canned tomatoes this year (hopefully).
My Fall Garden Vegetables:
Here in mild Upstate South Carolina, fall gardening is not only doable, it is really easy! The bugs die and the weather remains good. So I’ll be still growing some of the stuff mentioned above, like my arugula and mustard greens. And my tomatoes and peppers will keep going all the way until the first frost in early November. And I don’t harvest sweet potatoes until December so that garden bed is still going.
Here’s a list of the other plants I grow in the fall:
Brussels Sprouts Variety: I grow Catskill (Long Island Improved) Brussels in my fall garden. I don’t have the perfect luck with brussels in our climate, but I try growing them most years because it is one of my favorite vegetables.
Cabbage Varieties: My hubby LOVES cabbage and sauerkraut, so I have to have an entire bed of cabbages just for him every fall. I grow Early Flat Dutch Cabbage and also Red Acre Cabbage which is a purple type. They both do well and look so pretty in the garden during the fall and winter!
Cauliflower Variety: Every year, I try to grow Snowball Self-Blanching Cauliflower with very limited success. It’s fun to try, though!
Collards Varieties: I LOVE collards! They are so good sauteed with some bacon. Mmm…we love eating them weekly over here, so we grow a lot of collard greens. We usually only grow Champion Collards but this year I’ll be growing those again as well as a new variety, Georgia Southern Collards, because we are so close to the Georgia state line, so they MUST work here! 🙂
Garlic Variety: I’ll be honest, I don’t remember the Garlic variety I grow anymore. I bought the original bulbs 8 years ago, and I have great garlic seasons and just save 3 or 4 bulbs every year for another crop. It makes it my most frugal garden growing crop. We grow softneck garlic since that’s what does better in the south.
Leek Variety: I’m currently growing my last-year leeks and they are doing great, so I’ll be growing American Flag Leek variety again in my 2020 fall garden. I can’t wait to harvest them!
Rutabaga Variety: I love rutabagas! I’ll be growing the American Purple Top Yellow Rutabaga variety again this year. It does really well in our mild climate fall garden.
Turnip Variety: I try various turnip varieties down here with no success. I don’t know why, since I have no issue growing rutabagas and they are in the same family. But I’ll keep trying because I love eating turnips. I’ll be trying the Amber Globe Turnip this year. Fingers crossed!
What I am NOT Growing in 2020 (and Why):
I am taking the year off from growing potatoes. It’s kinda expensive to grow potatoes and I had only limited success last year. I’m just taking the year off to give that bed to something that produce more heavily, but I’ll be growing potatoes again in the future.
I am avoiding ALL melon varieties (cantaloupes, watermelons, etc.) as well as ALL squashes. All of them. No butternut squash, acorn squash, zucchini and yellow squash, etc. It’s so sad. But necessary.
I am staying away from these plant families this year as a drastic measure to get rid of some really bad pest invasions that I’ve had in my garden every year. Every year, despite obsessively and exhaustingly trying to keep up on these particular plant families’ care, I have HUGE pest invasions of vine borers AND squash bugs.
Seriously, I just cannot imagine another exhausting year losing every single battle against these pesty jerks. I’ve tried every single organic pest control tip I can find. I’ve spent hours and hours, all day long, killing the bugs by hand, or wrapping plants and produce in stockings, foil, cardboard, netting, yeah, you name it. And I just cannot seem to win.
One of the “last hurrah” organic gardening tips I’ve read about for battling these squash bugs and vine borers is to take a year off. The remaining eggs of these pests in my garden, in theory, will hatch this year and find none of their favorite foods to eat. In theory. We shall see how it goes! Hopefully they die off or move on, so I can tenatively try growing some of my favorite garden vegetable varieties again in the future.
I’ll be sad without these beautiful plants in my garden, but honestly, I’m also really excited to have a gardening year where I’m not stressed and angry and exhausted fighting the same dang pests. Of course, this probably means I’ll have some other new pest to worry about, but we won’t know until this summer!
More Plants in My 2020 Vegetable Garden
A vegetable garden is NOT complete without companion plants, edible flowers, and zinnias. They look beautiful (good for the gardening soul), they repel bad pests, and they encourage pollinators. And obviously edible flowers are a tasty addition to summer salads!
- Click here for my list of Plant for Attracting Beneficial Insects
- Click here for my list of edible flowers (and delicious recipes!)
My Vision for My 2020 Gardening Year:
This year, my husband gave me a thumb’s up on making our entire cleared backyard space into a garden. My goal is to eventually make it a Certified Wildlife Habitat (click here for more about the Certified Wildlife Habit idea). I’m working aggressively on perennial and annual flower beds and starting my own flower seeds by hand for the first time ever.
This means my vegetable garden will be as automatic as possible so that it doesn’t take up too much of my attention. I’ll be using automatic drip irrigation for watering and doing natural weed control tactics through heavily mulched paths and buckwheat as a living mulch. It’s one of the reasons I’m staying away from the melons and squashes, so that I am not using my energy on pests so much and hopefully I can use that energy on planting huge garden beds of herbs and flowers. I can’t wait!
If all goes well, I’ll add a ‘growing flowers’ section to this website in the future! And I’ll be taking lots of pictures of my progress and sharing them with you, I promise.
Tell me about your 2020 Garden Vegetable Varieties and plans in the comments below!