Gardening Articles: Edibles :: Vegetables

Better Performing New Veggies (page 4 of 4)

by Charlie Nardozzi

Improved Color

In addition to offering a more intense or an unusual color, these varieties can be grown for good flavor and high production.

Beet

'Albina Verduna' (65 days). This white-fleshed, sweet-tasting heirloom beet produces large tops.

Chard, Swiss

'Yellow Dorat' (60 days). This yellow-ribbed chard looks great in combination with other Swiss chards. Testers liked the crisp, thick leave but some thought the texture too tough and color too pale.

Eggplant

'Purple Rain' (80t days). Testers called this hybrid violet-and-white-striped oval eggplant "attractive" and "eye-catching." It also produces more fruits later in the season than comparable open-pollinated types.

Lettuce

'Cardinale' (55 days). This French Batavian-type, hybrid loose-leaf lettuce has thick, brilliant red leaves and upright growth. Although 'Cardinale' has good heat and bolt tolerance, some testers thought its taste was more bitter than that of other standard varieties.

'Freckles' (58 days). This pale green romaine-type lettuce flecked with wine red spots looks great in mesclun salad mixes. 'Merlot' (50 days). A shimmering red loose-leaf lettuce that produces broad, crisp, frilly leaves.

'Royalty' (45 days). This new leaf lettuce features intense red color on broad, shiny, ruffled upright leaves. Testers liked the attractive coloring, but many said the yield and growth weren't as strong as for 'Red Sails' or 'New Red Fire'.

Pumpkin

'Early Autumn' (100 days). This 10- to 14-pound pumpkin has a "precocious orange" gene that allows the fruits to turn orange and be harvested earlier.

'Italian Gold' (70t days). This prolific hybrid determinate plant produces beautiful pear-shaped tomatoes with a unique golden orange color. They are best used in sauces.

'Mortgage Lifter-Pesta Strain' (75t to 80t days). This bicolor version of the classic 'Mortgage Lifter' has golden fruits with red-streaked interiors.

'Sub-Arctic Tiger' (45t to 55t days). Compact determinate vines with fuzzy silver leaves produce red-and-yellow-striped 1- to 4-ounce fruits.

Small-Space Varieties

If you only have a small patio, a few containers, or a small bed, try growing some of these space-saving varieties.

Broccoli

'Little Guy' (40 days). A gaai laan type (small heads, slender stalks, edible leaves), this broccoli produces miniature dark green heads and small, tender leaves on a crisp, sweet stalk.

'Small Miracle' (55t days). Small-headed, hybrid dwarf plants reach only a foot tall. Testers liked the strong growth and being able to space plants only a foot apart. However, the small heads and low production didn't compare well with standards such as 'Green Comet'.

Tomato

'Bush Early Girl' (54t days). This "little sister" of 'Early Girl' is not only a compact hybrid determinate, but it also produces larger fruits than the original.

'Bush Goliath' (68t days). Large 3- to 4-inch-diameter red fruits are produced on compact 3 1/2-foot, hybrid plants. This dwarf indeterminate (a dwarf plant that produces fruit all season long) bears until frost and is a great container plant.

Watermelon

'Holiday' (86 days). This compact, bush-type watermelon produces 14- to 19-pound red-fleshed, globe-shaped fruits with better Fusarium wilt and Anthracnose disease resistance than similar varieties.

'Petite Yellow' (68 days). The only open-pollinated, yellow-fleshed watermelon on the market. This bush variety produces flowery and fragrant, but not too sweet, icebox-type fruits.

Something Different

Some varieties, such as these two, defy being put in any category. They are worth a try.

'Magenta Parch' parched corn (110 days). This unique purple-kerneled heirloom corn has stalks to 5 feet tall, an ears 8 inches long. Unlike sweet corn, parched corn is heated in a skillet to prepare for eating.

'Sabah Snake' yard-long bean (80 days). Vigorous plants produce light green, wrinkled pods 33 inches long-the longest of the yard-long beans. From Malaysia.

Charlie Nardozzi is senior horticulturist at National Gardening.

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