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The Best New Plants for 2020: Vegetables

Fine Gardening - Issue 193
Photo: courtesy of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

Tops in taste and in trial gardens

Name: ‘Alston Everlasting’ cherry tomato

Days to maturity: 65

We put a lot of stock into tomatoes that come out on top when taste-tested by hundreds of people. Such was the case for ‘Alston Everlasting’ cherry tomato, which was an overwhelming favorite at the 2019 Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello and in the 2019 Southern Exposure Seed Exchange trial gardens. They call this a “two-bite” large cherry tomato, and plants produce big yields while remaining disease free.

Introduced by Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

Photo: courtesy of John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds

This pea has high yields and a cool color

Name: Shiraz Purple’ snow pea

Days to maturity: 70

Purple peas aren’t new, but we’re used to seeing sugar snap varieties, not snow peas. ‘Shiraz Purple’ sports 3-to-4-inch-long dark burgundy pods in late spring. The vines are resistant to powdery mildew, and the yields are high.

Introduced by John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds


Photo: courtesy of Johnny Seeds.com

A squash you’ll enjoy in fall—and into winter

Name: ‘Starry Night’ acorn squash

Days to maturity: 95

The interesting skin of this squash might remind you of ‘Moon and Stars’ watermelon. The flesh inside, however, is not melon pink but a deliciously sweet dark yellow that’s perfect for the harvest table. Better still, this acorn squash can be stored for months in a cool, dry spot.

Introduced by Johnny’s Selected Seeds


Photo: courtesy of johnnyseeds.com

The smallest watermelon you’ll ever see

Name: ‘Ocelot’ mini watermelon

Days to maturity: 80

At 3 to 5 pounds apiece, ‘Ocelot’ watermelons are tiny treasures of sweetness. Their smaller size generally means a larger yield off the vines too. This variety boasts a longer harvest window in the garden, so you won’t need to eat a watermelon for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in season. Icebox watermelons (like this one) store easier in the fridge, taking up less space than their larger cousins.

Introduced by Johnny’s Selected Seeds


Photo: courtesy of New England Seed Co.

It’s a black pumpkin—for real

Name: ‘Black Kat’ pumpkin

Days to maturity: 75

Halloween will never be the same! These small, munchkin-type pumpkins truly are a dark black when they’re harvested young. If left on the vine to mature longer, the fruits turn more green (think acorn squash). The inner flesh is orange, so when ‘Black Kat’ is carved into a jack-o’-lantern, the glow is an epic sight.

Introduced by New England Seed Company

Photo: courtesy of johnnyseeds.com

A colorful greens mix with a bit of spice

Name: Cheap Frills greens mix

Days to maturity: 20

If you’re tired of buying bags of salad mix at the grocery store only to have them rot a day or two later, why not grow your own? This custom blend from Johnny’s includes a variety of textures and colors, with some mustards and mizuna thrown in for a little peppery goodness. If you want a salad that looks as good as it tastes, Cheap Frills is for you.

Introduced by Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Back to collection

From Fine Gardening #193

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