Last week I presented some of the new flower varieties for 2009 as presented by the National Garden Bureau.
The National Garden Bureau is a non-profit organization made up of growers and horticultural companies from all over the world. Many of the companies that send out your seed catalogs each winter belong to the NGB. The organization was formed in 1920 but didn't come into its own until just after World War II. People who planted those famous Victory Gardens in backyards all over the world discovered they liked gardening and growing their own food and flowers. Gardening went from a way to provide food and offer attractive foundation plantings around homes to a hobby that garnered the interest of millions of people worldwide.
With the help of the members of the NGB, backyard gardeners became not only more educated about gardening, but were given more opportunities to grow their plants and vegetables from seed.
Each year, the organization introduces new varieties of fruits, vegetables and flowering plants that their members have tested, grown and made available to the market.
Here are some of the vegetable varieties we can be looking for next spring:
A new variety of basil called "Boxwood" is a dwarf variety that is listed as very bushy and very productive. Basil is grown for its pungent fragrance and flavor used mainly in Italian dishes. It is considered an herb, but also can be vegetable as it is often eaten raw in salads. Basil goes particularly well with tomatoes and tomato sauces and is the primary ingredient in pesto. "Boxwood" is a small-leafed herb and would make a great container plant.
A hybrid variety of beets that is new on the market is "Solo." "Solo" claims to require less thinning, and anyone who grows beets knows that thinning is one of the annoyances of growing this vegetable. Beets should be planted two to three inches apart, but several plants emerge from one seed. This is because the tiny beet seed that we plant is actually the fruit and contains at least five seeds inside.
A new habanero pepper, "Habanero Red," is said to be hotter than the hottest habaneros at 445,000 Scoville units. The Scoville method is used to measure the heat of peppers, with sweet bell peppers being the lowest on the scale with zero to 100 Scoville units versus Scotch Bonnets and habaneros at the top of the scale at 100,000 to 450,000 Scoville units. That's mighty hot.
Not to be outdone by the habanero, there is also a new variety of jalapeno called "Jalefuego" that is reported to be extra hot as well. If you think jalapenos are hot, keep in mind that they only rank about 2,000 to 5,000 on the Scoville scale. Mere lightweights compared to the habanero.
A quick grower that is bound to be first on your plate next spring is a spinach variety called "El Grinta." Claiming it as slow to bolt (go to seed), it doesn't really matter if you plant it early enough because it can be harvested in only 25 days. This means if you plant it in mid-April, you can serve fresh spinach salad for your Mother's Day meal.
Nearer to mid-summer, we find we are inundated with fast-maturing zucchini that we can't seem to use fast enough. But "Anton," a dark-colored zucchini variety, is said to have a longer shelf life than other varieties. This means that you can put these babies further back in the pantry and use up all the others first. This variety is also described as
"perfectly cylindrical." That's round to you and me, and makes for easier storage.
I know you are all anxious to hear about the new tomato varieties. After all, while we still want our Big Boys and Early Girls, we can't resist trying out what's new. The NGB recommends five tomato varieties. "First Light" can be harvested in about 76 days from germination, when the bottoms are red but the "shoulder" is still light green. "Lola" is an indeterminate variety, which means it is a vining plant that can get from 6 to 12 feet tall. Harvest for "Lola" is around 80 days. "Sweet Mojo" is said to be exceptionally early to mature at 60 days. Fruits are grape shaped and high yielding with up to 21 fruit per plant. And finally, "Tomatoberry" is a strawberry shaped tomato, about one-inch in diameter with firm texture and sweet taste. It matures in about 80 days.
For more information on these vegetable varieties and more recommendations by the National Garden Bureau, visit the Web site at www.ngb.org. Once you get there, click on "Gardening" then "New Varieties."
Evanoff is a Master Gardener with The Ohio State University of Trumbull County. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org