Garden Talk: January 15, 2009

From NGA Editors

Something Old and Something New in Tomatoes

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It’s the New Year. With the staggering economy, many people are looking to grow more of their own vegetables this year. With that in mind, I thought to highlight some of the best new varieties of vegetables I’ve found in catalogs this winter. Order early because some of these new varieties are available only in limited quantities.

Tomatoes are the most popular vegetable so I’m starting with these. Here is one new and one rediscovered old variety.

‘Sweet Seedless’ is the world’s first hybrid, seedless tomato. We’ve seen seedless watermelons and cucumbers in stores for years. Now comes a seedless tomato with a great combination of sweet flavor, juiciness, firmness, and high production. It’s claimed the lack of seeds makes this a sweeter variety. The indeterminate, red, 8- to 10-ounce fruits mature 68 days after transplanting.

‘Orange Fleshed Purple Smudge’ is an indeterminate heirloom producing 4- to 10-ounce sized fruits, 80 to 90 days after transplanting. This variety is unique for its color. The flattened shape and ribbing are highlighted by the tangerine–orange fruits with splashes of purple. The purple gets more pronounced as the fruits mature.

For more information on ‘Sweet Seedless’, go to: Burpee Seeds. For more information on ‘Orange Fleshed Purple Smudge’, go to: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

Two Tough Greens

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There’s nothing like fresh greens from the garden in spring. Two of the stars in the early spring greens garden are arugula and kale. They are tough, cold tolerate, tasty, and nutritious. Here are two new varieties that are sure to pique some interest.

‘Even Star Winter’ arugula is one tough variety. It’s claimed to withstand temperatures to 6 degrees F. It’s a fast-growing variety that matures in 40 days from seeding. It also tolerates drought and poor soil fertility. ‘Even Star’ is best planted as a fall crop in warm areas, but is worth a try as a spring crop in cool locations.

Kale is a staple green in cool climates. Some, however, find the taste of curly kale varieties bitter and unappealing. Now the new ‘Starbor Hybrid’ kale claims to have no bitterness. The curly, dark, blue-green leaves grow 12- to 18-inches tall, mature in 55 days, have uniform color, and resist yellowing.

For more information on ‘Even Star Winter’ arugula, go to: Southern Exposure Seed Exchange . For more information on Starbor Hybrid’ kale, go to: Johnny's Selected Seeds.

Not So Hot Pepper

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Lovers of spicy foods know that any dish with habanero peppers in it will knock your socks off. Considered one of the hottest pepper types, habaneros must be used with caution when handling and cooking. If you like the flavor of habaneros, but not the heat, now there’s a new, milder version of this tangy pepper.

‘Zavory’ registers only 100 Scoville units on the heat scale (compared with 300,000 for other habanero varieties) making it so mild you can eat it raw off the plant like a sweet tomato. The cardinal-red fruits are produced 90 days after transplanting and grow on 30-inch-tall plants.

For more information on this new, not-so-hot habanero variety, go to: The Cooks Garden .

Two New Cabbages

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Cabbages may not be the type of vegetable that gets people excited, but these two new varieties have some great advantages that might inspire you grow them.

‘Icy Fingers’ cabbage is one of the most stunningly beautiful ornamental cabbages available. Deeply cut, frizzy, silver-blue outer leaves contrast well with the deep maroon heart. The densely packed plant grows 12 to 18 inches tall. It makes a great addition to the flower and vegetable garden.

Chinese cabbage is an easy to grow green, but often the large heads are more than you can use in one sitting. Enter ‘Wa Wa Tsai Hybrid’ Chinese cabbage. This variety is a great space saver. The heads barely fit in your hand at maturity growing only 10 to 12 ounces within 60 days of seeding. They are great in stir fries, soups, and salads.

Go to Park Seed for more information on ‘Icy Fingers' and ‘Wa Wa Tsai’ cabbage.
 
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