Sneak Peek: 2018 Vegetable Varieties
One of the bonuses of being a member of the Association for Garden Communicators (formerly Garden Writers Association) is that you’re privy to advance information. I love to know what’s coming our way and I love getting to share that information with you! So how about a peek at some of the 2018 vegetable varieties?
This sneak peek is courtesy of the National Garden Bureau and their members, by the way. Note that you can click on any of the photos below to view a larger image. Also, I’ve listed potential seed sources for each and have links to those sources at the bottom of this post.
First up is a snack pepper called ‘Candy Cane Red’ and the breeder is PanAmerican Seed. The plants will grow from 18 to 24 inches in height and need 80 to 85 days to reach maturity. However, you can start harvesting the green peppers 40 to 45 days after transplanting them, and pick mature red peppers anywhere from 60 to 85 days after setting them into the garden.
What’s so special about it? The foliage is variegated and the green peppers have cream stripes in them. Pretty cool, huh? The peppers have a bell shape to them and plants are also suitable for growing in containers. Potential seed sources: Harris Seeds, Stokes Seeds, Totally Tomato.
Another pepper that’s new on the scene is ‘Mad Hatter’ and when you look at the photo, you’ll see how it got its name. This one is a specialty hot pepper that comes to us from PanAmerican Seed; it was also an All-America Selections winner (AAS) for 2017. AAS is not a breeder or nursery, but rather, a judging organization that rates cultivars based on how well they grow and perform in the garden, taking taste and other attributes into account as well. So it’s a big deal when a cultivar wins an AAS award! The plants grow an impressive 3 to 4 feet in height and the peppers require 95 to 110 days to reach maturity. However, 65 to 70 days after transplanting them into the garden, you can harvest mature green striped peppers, and 85 to 90 days after transplant, you can start harvesting mature red peppers. The flavor sweetens with age. It’s recommended that you provide support for the plants due to their height. Potential seed sources: Johnny’s Seeds, Park Seed, Totally Tomato, Stokes Seeds, Burpee and Harris Seeds.
Here’s a new watermelon hybrid called ‘Mini Love’. It was produced by HM Clause and is an AAS winner. This is a compact (but vining) watermelon that matures in 80 days. The vines are only about 3 feet in length yet produce as many as 6 fruits on each! The fruits are a “personal size,” featuring sweet, deep-red flesh and rind that is light green with dark stripes. Notice the cute watermelons at the bottom of the photo to the right. They are crack-resistant and due to their small size, they could be grown in a container if you’re short on space. Potential seed sources: Park Seed, Harris Seeds, Jung Seed, Totally Tomato, Stokes Seeds, Territorial Seed.
While we’re on the subject of watermelons, how about ‘Gold in Gold’? This one comes from Asia Seed Co. Ltd. and is also an AAS winner. ‘Gold in Gold’ needs about 100 days to reach maturity, but the literature also indicates it matures 70 days after transplanting so if you live in a region with a shorter growing season, you could start it a bit early and get it out into the garden sooner (I would cover it with floating row cover for 2-3 weeks just to really get it off to a good start!). What’s unusual about this variety is that the 7-inch-long fruits are yellow in color and the sweet flesh is orange. The melons are crack-resistant and this variety has disease-resistance as well. Potential seed sources: Jung Seed.
Here’s a cheery yellow hybrid tomato called ‘Patio Choice Yellow’. It comes from Seeds by Design and is also an AAS winner. It’s a compact, determinate plant that produces cherry tomatoes. And when I say compact, I really mean it! The plants reach just 15 to 18 inches in height so they would be ideal for containers, hanging baskets or small gardens. The tomatoes take about 65 days to reach maturity (about 45 days after being transplanted). The plants are resistant to fusarium wilt, verticillium wilt and tobacco mosaic virus. Potential seed sources: Park Seed, Totally Tomato, Jung Seed.
The last variety that caught my eye was the tomato ‘Oh Happy Day’ which comes from Burpee. This is an indeterminate variety that grows from 4 to 6 feet in height and produces red 5- to 6-oz. beefsteak-style tomatoes. The plants need 80 to 85 days to produce mature fruits, but essentially will produce them 67 days after transplanting them into the garden. They are resistant to early and late blight (maybe that would help the folks who are growing tomatoes in the south?), along with verticillium and fusarium wilts. Potential seed sources: Burpee and Ball Seed.