Gardens are truly a thing of beauty. In many cases they play an important role providing fresh, delicious food to gardeners and their families. The sweet satisfaction of eating a salad or pasta made with fresh vegetables that you harvested only hours before in your backyard is something gardeners look forward to year after year.
Every spring, delectable new varieties of vegetables—including tomatoes, squash, root vegetables and more—become available for the first time. This year is no exception. Consider the new ‘Big Yummy’ and ‘Jersey Boy’ tomatoes that feature improved performance and amazing flavor. Or how about the aptly-named ‘Cupcake’ summer squash with its rich taste and cupcake shape. Vegetables should always be this much fun!
Speaking of fun—the young and the young-at-heart, will love pulling the crisp and colorful ‘Starburst’ radish from the soil. If something more unique suits your style, try growing your own fresh sprouts or even a harvest of Morel mushrooms. Why spend time and money in the produce aisle when so many great options for vegetables are available right in your garden?
Burpee introduces ‘Cupcake’ Summer Squash and ‘Jersey Boy’ Tomato
|Photo courtesy of Burpee|
Summer squash is a longtime vegetable garden favorite because of its dependable production in almost any growing conditions. Cupcake Hybrid Summer Squash is a new variety, available exclusively from Burpee, that gets its name from its cupcake shape. The delectable fruits are 2-5 inches across and boast a flavor that is somewhat sweet and somewhat savory. Cupcake Hybrid Summer Squash is a great choice for roasting, slicing, grilling, boiling and stuffing. ‘Cupcake’ combines patty-pan squash’s rich, sweet flavor and zucchini’s soft skin. This large, trailing plant will yields dozens of round, green squash. A packet of seeds sells for $6.95 from www.burpee.com , 1-800-888-1447.
Jersey Boy Hybrid Tomato is a new hybrid of two of the most popular tomatoes of all time—Brandywine and Rutgers.
|Photo courtesy of Burpee|
This new variety is super—super fragrant, super tasty and super productive. ‘Jersey Boy’ is the offspring of two legendary tomatoes, and it has the best features of both. The 8-ounces fruits join together Brandywine’s sweet-sour taste with Rutgers’ classic red color, shapeliness, yield and performance. Start seeds indoors, then transplant when all danger of frost has passed. Tomatoes will mature 70-75 days after transplants are set out. This is an indeterminate plant that will grow big and keep producing ripe tomatoes all season long. A packet of seeds sells for $6.95, or three live plants sell for $16.95 exclusively from www.burpee.com , 1-800-888-1447.
Starburst Hybrid Radish is a visual and taste delight
|Photo courtesy of Park Seed|
Radishes are a great garden choice for beginners and kids because they are easy to grow and quickly produce a delicious crop. They are great for containers, and they make a great “first crop” for children because they are the speed demons of the garden—maturing more quickly than almost any other vegetable.
Starburst Hybrid Radish Seeds are a great choice for new gardeners, kids and experienced gardeners alike because of their unique color and excellent taste. This variety is a Chinese type of radish that grows edible roots that are as big as tangerines, with insides as bright red as watermelons. Expect Starburst globes to reach 2 to 2½ inches in diameter, with a white outside rind that’s tinged with green, red flesh, and pale green shoots. These radishes mature steadily, with excellent disease and pest-fighting ability. And they taste as good as they look. Starburst Hybrid Radishes are great for pickling as well as fresh eating. The ripe radishes are round, crisp and flavorful, making them an excellent addition to any garden. You definitely step up to gourmet dining when you grow Starburst Hybrid Radish.
Like most radish varieties, Starburst Hybrid grows best in moist, well-drained soil. Radishes will be ready to harvest 60 days after sowing seeds. A packet of 100 seeds sells for $3.95 from Park Seed, www.parkseed.com, 800-845-3369.
Big Yummy Tomato produces lots of delicious fruit in a small space
|Photo courtesy of Park Seed|
The name “Big Yummy” pretty much says it all. Pull a ripe Big Yummy Hybrid Tomato off the plant and take a bite. The taste is a perfect blend of sugary sweetness and fresh tomato tang that so many modern varieties lack. Big Yummy produces deep red, smooth fruits weighing in at 8 to 10 ounces on average. This is a great all-purpose size, ideal for slicing, canning, freezing, and saucing. The plant habit is determinate, meaning that that plant stays compact and it sets its entire crop within just a few weeks, instead of bearing small amounts continuously all season. This is ideal if you like to can or freeze your crop, because you can do it all at once. (Of course, you can also create a longer season of fruiting by staggering the times at which you sow your Big Yummy seed and transplant the seedlings into the garden. Try starting new seeds every two weeks for a really long season of production.)
Big Yummy is a hybrid with superb disease resistance, making it a great choice for first-time gardeners as well as those who have had problems growing tomatoes in the past. This variety is resistant to Alternaria Stem Canker, Fusarium Wilt 1, Gray Leaf Spot, Tomato Spotted Wilt, and Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl.
Start seeds indoors 5 to 6 weeks before the last frost date. Transplant seedlings outdoors when danger of frost is past and night temperatures consistently remain above 55 degrees F. Fruit is ready to harvest 69 days after setting out transplants. A packet of 25 seeds sells for $3.95, or a six-pack of Big Yummy Hybrid Tomato Plants sells for $14.95 from Park Seed, www.parkseed.com, 800-845-3369.
Create a Morel habitat to grow delicious fresh mushrooms
|Photo courtesy of Gourmet Mushrooms|
Morel mushrooms are hunted in the wild by thousands of people every year for their delicious taste and their distinctive honeycomb-like upper cap. The Morel Habitat Kit now makes it possible to grow morels in your own backyard for a personal supply of fresh morel mushrooms to eat in the spring.
Morel mushroom habitats may be started in any type of soil and have produced morel mushrooms in almost all areas of the United States (wherever there’s a distinct spring season between winter and summer). The Morel Habitat Kit contains the spawn (seed) of a unique morel strain and complete instructions needed to seed a backyard morel habitat that can produce pounds of morels each year in a properly maintained four-foot by four-foot area. Morel Habitats are perennial, and they may be started any time your soil is workable. The Morel Habitat is earth friendly, sustainable and ecologically sound; it actually allows improvement of the environment through recycling biodegradable material instead of adding it to already overburdened landfills.
The Morel Habitat Kit sells for $32.95 from Gourmet Mushrooms at www.gmushrooms.org. Also available are indoor mushroom growing kits including the Sonoma Brown Mushroom Kit and the Blue Oyster Mushroom Kit.
Healthy sprouting seeds offer delicious taste
|Photo courtesy of Harris Seeds|
Low calories, high in fiber, and packed with nutritional benefits, organic sprouts have become a favorite part of healthy eating. Alfalfa sprouts are one of the most popular sprouts due to their ability to be added to salads, sandwiches and many other dishes. They have a sweet, fresh taste—and alfalfa sprouts are an excellent source of vitamins including vitamins A, D, E, and K. Mung bean sprouts, which have been cultivated in Asia for thousands of years, have a crisp nutty flavor that can be stir-fried or eaten raw in salads. Today, “bean sprouts” are virtually synonymous with mung bean sprouts, and the popularity of this nutritious sprout continues to grow. They are a good source of protein, fiber and vitamins.
Sungarden Sprouts offers Alfalfa and Mung bean seeds for sprouting, plus Broccoli, Clover, Wheat, Spicy Mix, Crispy Mix and Bean Mix… most available organically! All seeds are thoroughly tested to be free of human or plant based pathogens. Sungarden tests its seeds for good germination and prints the results on every package. Prices for 3-ounce packages of sprouting seeds start at about $3.00 from Harris Seeds, www.HarrisSeeds.com or 800-544-7938.