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Top 12 Vegetables To Grow

After plenty of testing and documentation during the past 35 years at Arborcrest Gardens, here are our Top 12 Vegetables to grow each summer in the high country of the Blue Ridge Mountains (and at your home garden elsewhere!). 


  1. Brandywine Tomato: This heirloom tomato is a top pick due to its ability to tolerate our cooler, wetter climate. It boasts a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity, and it’s perfectly sized for a classic tomato sandwich. Of the 40 varieties we’ve tested, the Brandywine takes the cake (and sandwich!) for the richest flavor and perfect texture. 

  2. Green Brussels SproutsWith plenty of sun and well-drained soil, Brussels sprouts prefer cooler temperatures, so plant them in spring for a fall harvest. Frost can work its magic by converting some of their starches into sugars, causing the brussels sprouts to become sweeter and a bit more tender, so wait to harvest until after a frost!

  3. Potatoes ‘Kennebec’: Potatoes are a delight to grow and harvest, offering a rewarding experience for gardeners of all levels. Their smooth, cream-colored skin, and firm texture make them perfect for enjoying mashed, roasted, or fried. These crops love plenty of sun and well-drained, but moist, soil. We make sure to keep them hilled with soil or mulch as they grow to prevent the potatoes from being exposed to sunlight.

  4. Carrots ‘Sugar Snax’: These carrots offer the sweetest flavor that you’ll enjoy into fall and all winter long. Harvesting in colder months and storing well, they defy the chill and bring a taste of summer year-round. The leaves of this variety are disease-resistant, so they signal strong, thriving plants, and the promise of crisp, flavorful roots. 

  5. Turnips ‘Hakurei’: These hidden gems reveal their sweetness in the colder months, making them an irresistible crisp, naturally sweet reward. Perfect for snacking on the go or incorporating them into your favorite dishes. They do well in raised beds or pots. 

  6. Yellow Squash ‘Gold Star’: This resilient squash variety combines its vigor and resistance to powdery mildew to offer bounties of tender, flavorful fruit all season long. Its striking appearance of vibrant yellow skin makes it a standout in the garden and on the plate. Its compact, bushy growth makes it well-suited for smaller gardens. 

  7. Corn ‘Gotta Have It’: Living up to its name, this variety boasts an irresistible sweetness that keeps longer than other corn varieties. As a vigorous plant with high yields, it produces an abundance of ears. Plant crops at different times so you can enjoy corn all summer long. We use metal crow covers to protect the seedlings and a solar-powered electric fence to deter those hungry raccoons. 

  8. Asparagus ‘Purple Passion’: This visually stunning variety is known for its vibrant purple spears and exceptional flavor. It is prized for its productivity and hardiness in the garden. Year after year, it will produce abundant harvests with proper care including beds with organic matter, plenty of sun, and well-drained soil. 

  9. Cabbage ‘Bonnie Giant’: A classic cabbage with large, round heads and a mild, sweet flavor. This variety tolerates cooler weather like a champ making it suitable for a spring and fall planting. It is a reliable crop, and we donated about 400-500 lb of cabbage to the Hunger & Health Coalition in Boone, NC last year. Tip: Plant large heads upside down in late fall and harvest white, more mild heads in early spring.

  10. Cucumbers ‘Corinto’: This cucumber has a hint of sweetness and a crisp texture making it a refreshing snack all summer. It’s tempting to enjoy them before they even make it from the garden to your fridge. This variety is disease resistant and produces high yields with proper maintenance. Requiring warmth and plenty of moisture, be sure to water and fertilize regularly to prevent bitterness and cucumber beetle infestations. 

  11. Sweet Peppers ‘Lunchbox’: This pepper offers a vibrant array of colors ranging from bright red to yellow to orange. They make a delicious healthy snack and do well in raised beds or smaller containers. 

  12. Okra: While it's difficult to grow in our colder climate, we have found that it’s best to plant in early June.

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