A few years ago, when I first started gardening seriously, I read 100 Vegetables and Where They Came From by William Woys Weaver. It is a remarkable book filled with page-after-page of vegetable building blocks for numerous culinary masterpieces. I was so inspired I tried to grow about half of the varieties mentioned. As a new gardener, this probably wasn’t the best way for me to have spent my time.
Here are a few words of advice that hopefully can help you avoid the same mistake.
First, focus on what you and your family actually enjoy eating. Do you really eat lots of celeriac? How about daikon radishes? If you do, that is great, but more likely you eat a lot of squash, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, etc. Think carefully about how you allocate your space.
Second, find seeds/varieties that are adapted to growing well in your area! It is fun to look at seed catalogs from far-away places; however the vegetables may not do well for you. Purchase seeds from companies that are in your region or perhaps swap seeds with local gardening pals. You can also get good information from the growers at your local farmers market about what and where to buy.
As I enter my seventh year of gardening in my current location, the number of vegetable varieties I will grow this year has decreased by 75%. Instead of 20 individual varieties of lettuce, I now purchase a single (large) packet of lettuce mix from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. Instead of 15 varieties of soup beans, I now plant zero (we just don’t eat very many dried beans).
My intent isn’t to dissuade you from planting what you have been inspired to plant. Just remember to focus the majority of your time and growing space on the vegetables you enjoy and source your seeds locally.
Good luck with your gardens. If you have questions I will be happy to help if I can.