PHOTO: iStock/Thinkstock
February 11, 2016

As I peruse the many seed catalogs I receive every winter, I’m always on the lookout for new vegetable varieties. I enjoy experimenting with these crops, sometimes with great success and sometimes not.

This year, I was blown away by all the new offerings from some of my favorite seed sources. I’m going to have to work really hard to narrow down my list of must-have new varieties for this year’s garden. Since one of my goals for 2016 was to grow more of what we eat and less “experimental” stuff, I’m going to choose only a handful of new varieties for my own garden. But here’s a list of some of the most intriguing new releases I found, just in case you’d like to include some of them in your plans. If you do, be sure to let me know how they perform—I’d love to hear your feedback.

Meatball Eggplant

eggplant
Burpee Seed Company

If I had a family that loved eggplant, this is the variety I’d grow. Touted as being the “mightiest, meatiest eggplant ever” by the Burpee Seed Company, who features Meatball on the cover of their spring 2016 catalog, this variety is said to produce massive fruits, up to 5 inches across. Unfortunately, I’m the only eggplant eater in the house, so I’ll stick to smaller varieties, like Fairy Tale and Listada di Gandia. But for all you eggplant lovers out there, go ahead and give Meatball a whirl.

Royal Tenderette Sprouting Broccoli

broccoli
Burpee Seed Company

Another find from the Burpee catalog, this sprouting broccoli is said to send up multiple slender stems, each topped with a small flower cluster. I love sprouting broccoli because it produces multiple side-shoots almost all season long. I’m looking forward to trying this new selection.

Gulliver Tomatillo

tomatillo
Burpee Seed Company

Apparently this particular variety takes the guesswork out of harvesting tomatillos. Much like a ground cherry, Gulliver’s’ fruits drop off the plant naturally when they’re ready for harvest. I like this idea, because for me, the ripeness of tomatillos is sometimes difficult to gauge. It’s touted as being extremely prolific, and I have a feeling I’m really going to like it.

Orange Crisp Watermelon

watermelon
Territorial Seed Company

If you have luck growing full-sized watermelons, you may want to try this new offering I found in the Territorial Seed catalog. My family really enjoys orange watermelons, but I’ve never grown a seedless variety before. This hybrid has seedless, tangerine-colored flesh, and each fruit is said to weigh between 14 and 18 pounds! I may try growing a few of these vines in a large, black fabric planter pot so they don’t take up room in the garden.

Lively Italian Orange Pepper

pepper
Log House Plants

A new selection from High Mowing Seeds, this pepper was bred and developed in Oregon by Tom Lively. Offered for the first time this year, this pepper, and it’s yellow sister, is noted for its thick walls and high yields. Although it’s open-pollinated, Lively Italian Orange is said to compete well quite with hybrids in seed trials in the northeast. The fruits are tapered with sweet, juicy flesh.



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