A couple of weeks ago I wrote about perennial flowers named All America Selections by the National Garden Bureau. Those chosen are new cultivars that have been tested in trial gardens for superior garden performance.
There were no vegetables on the list that will carry the All America Selections label in our garden centers next spring, but the NGB has recognized several new varieties of new vegetables that will be available from the bureau's long list of member companies who provide seeds and plants to gardeners each year.
Here are the new vegetable varieties we can expect to see in our seed catalogs or garden centers next season:
l Basil 'Aristotle' is an F1 hybrid that has a compact, rounded habit that is said to hold its rounded shape as it grows. The plants are described as being basketball size mounds that are excellent for patio pots and baskets.
An F1 hybrid means this plant is the first generation from two separate parent plants. F1 hybrids do not grow true from collected seeds. Offspring will generally revert back to one of the parent plants, or can end up being a totally different plant.
l A new pole bean variety 'Trionfo Violetto' is the offspring of an Italian heirloom. As its name indicates, it is a variety of purple podded bean that are said to be tender, crisp, thin and stringless. Staking is required for this climber, but it may look nice on a trellis, tepee or fence.
l A few years ago magazine ads sold a new gimmick plant they called the 'Egg Plant.'' The plant produced small, oval white fruit that were shaped like eggs and were completely edible. These so-called phenomenal plants were in reality nothing more than a variety of white eggplant that had been around for thousands of years, just not here. After these trendy plants were brought to the attention of home gardeners, however, white eggplant began showing up in garden centers and seed catalogs. The NGB has chosen an F1 variety of eggplant, 'Ivory,' as one of the featured new vegetables for 2010.
Ivory is described as having a multi-branching habit with large numbers of oval-shaped white fruit that are about the size of baseballs. The plant, which is determinate, meaning it is shrub-like and not vining, still gets pretty tall and does require some staking, probably to keep the top-heavy fruit from pulling it over.
l A new vegetable variety that I plan to look for is 'Skyphos,' a dark red, butterhead lettuce. I admit to being quite a fan of lettuce varieties and butterhead is one of my favorites. Skyphos is described as sweet with tender leaves. If the plant grows the way the photo shows, it is not only edible, but is almost decorative as well with a tri-color effect of dark red outer leaves and emerald green inner leaves with purple tips. A few of these leaves would definitely look interesting on a sandwich.
l In interesting looking new pepper introduction is 'Chichen Itza,' a hybrid habanero that matures to a lovely lantern orange color. Chichen Itza is described as milder than most habaneros, which are one of the hottest peppers along with Scotch Bonnets.
If you aren't familiar with the scale, it is the measurement by which the heat in peppers are determined. The system was developed in 1912 by Wilbur Scoville. Green bell peppers are at the lowest of the scale at zero. Pure capsaicin, the chemical in peppers that gives them their heat, is rated between 15 and 16 million Scoville units. Jalepenos are around 2,500 units and habaneros and Scotch Bonnets are around 100,000 to 350,000 units. According to the NGB, Chichen Itza rates 15,000 to 18,000 on the scale, which is still pretty hot in my opinion. If you like heat in your food, this might be a good choice for your garden next year.
l There are many new varieties the National Garden Bureau has decided we should know about. These include hybrid varieties of many other peppers, such as as an early sweet pepper called 'Chablis,' a sweet green bell variety called 'Classic' and a sweet cubanelle variety called 'Key West.'
Also included on the list are several tomatoes including a firm, slicing variety called 'Marmara,' a small globe variety called 'Sweet 'n' Neat Cherry Red' and a pink cherry tomato called 'Sweet Treats.'
There are more, of course, including new varieties of squash and ornamental gourds, but I think you get the picture.
Now that many of our gardens have exhausted themselves, if not entirely put to bed for the year, we can start thinking about next year, what we want to grow and again and what new varieties we want to try.
Evanoff is a Master Gardener with The Ohio State University Extension of Trumbull County. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.