What’s new in the garden: Veggie varieties for 2014
Spring is a time of renewal, and nowhere is that represented more clearly than in the garden. After a long and cold winter, it’s time to get back to the land, and 2014 offers a blooming bounty of new varieties of vegetables that require less water, stand up to heat better and are often able to be thrive in smaller spaces, making them ideal for more green thumbs.
While many people love their heirloom plants and vegetables, others get excited by something new, said Diane Blazek, executive director of the National Garden Bureau.
“Some people like the novelty. They want something unique. Sometimes it’s about bragging rights and growing something that nobody else has,” Blazek said. “When horticulturists created the world’s first black petunia plant it was exceptionally striking and sought after.”
Year after year the breeding companies strive for newer, better plants.
“Just like anything we do, we follow trends and fashion in colors, texture, fragrance and savor,” said South Carolina gardener Jenks Farmer, who is releasing “Deep-Rooted Wisdom,” a collection of practical lessons, oral histories and do-it-yourself pointers. “We love novelty and learning new things.”
New varieties are usually improved varieties, Blazek said. Overall, new varieties are “easy to care for, more heat/drought tolerant, disease-resistant and, oftentimes, more compact. Many times, breeders are taking heirlooms and are improving them for productivity, disease resistance and a more controlled growth habit,” she said.
Here are a few fresh-for-2014 varieties the National Garden Bureau is promoting:
Bred for small gardens, hanging baskets or containers, Fantastico is an early-maturing, high-yield grape tomato with built-in late blight resistance. If you let them go a few days past peak, these little beauties resist cracking better than others, and they’re easy to harvest with long clusters of sweet, tasty fruits held toward the outside of the plant.
Green bean Mascotte
These stringless beans are long, fine, almost French in appearance and grow strongly in all regions of the United States. With a smaller root ball, they’re more compact and optimal for window boxes, container and small-space gardens. Its disease resistance makes for reliable growing, and its upright plant offers easy harvest over a long window of time.
Eggplant Patio Baby
Beautifully glossy and an early and abundant producer throughout the season, Patio Baby’s egg-shaped fruits should be harvested at baby size, 2 to 3 inches, and are delicious roasted or in dips and salads. It’s also child-friendly, with thornless leaves for painless harvesting.
Cucumber Pick A Bushel
A compact bush-type cucumber spreading only about 24 inches, Pick a Bushel offers a sweeter tasting light-green cucumber with a firm texture, perfect for pickling when harvested early. If left on the vine longer, it will grow to 6 inches. Great for containers.
Microgreens Peas for Shoots
Adventurous cooks can’t always find what they need at the grocery store, and now they can grow their own. These Asian-style pea shoots are exceptionally tender and impart the sweet taste of fresh peas to salads and cooked dishes. Easy to grow in the garden or indoors in a shallow tray.
Pea Blue Podded
A tri-use pea that can be used young as an edible podded pea, shell peas during midseason and dry pods later for soup peas. Purple/blue shells house green peas on 5- to 6-inch tall plants that are so beautiful you could grow for an ornamental.