You know the edible category is hot when fruits and vegetables are upstaging gorgeous flowers at the California Spring Trials. More people were raving about corn, strawberries, tomatoes and peppers than petunias and pansies.
Sakata, which is already an established leader in the commercial vegetable market, launched a new Home Grown division for garden vegetables. Sakata had been serving gardeners to some extent through Chriseed (Alf Christianson Seed Co.), a Washington-based company Sakata purchased in 2002. Sakata Home Grown will focus on varieties that will be of interest to home gardeners with criteria being flavor, growing ease, beauty and health benefits. The assortment debuts with more than 64 varieties.
Plug Connection raised eyebrows and interest when it showcased the Super Naturals grafted vegetables, which include a few peppers and Mighty ‘Mato. Grafted veggies are created when the top part of one plant (the scion) is attached to the root system of a separate plant (the rootstock). Heirloom tomatoes like ‘Brandywine’ and ‘Big Beef’ are grafted onto ultravigorous rootstock, which makes the plant more powerful producing and fending off pests and diseases. Eggplants, squash, cucumbers and melons are coming soon.
Floranova continues to delight each year with new introductions in its Vegetalis line of patio veggies. Big hits this year were pepper ‘Basket of Fire’ and tomato ‘Cherry Falls’–a trailing type that produces more than 600 fruits a season that are larger and more flavorful than a typical cherry tomato. Floranova’s ornamental corn (zea) ‘Field of Dreams’ was a big hit and became a finalist for Medal of Excellence.
Gourmet strawberries from Dutch-based ABZ Seeds continue to be hits with tasty fruit and showy flowers. New this year is ‘Frisan’ with deep pink flowers and a vigorous, trailing habit. Growers who sow ‘Frisan’ in January should see fruit within three to five months.
Last, but not least, Ball Horticultural Co. continues to expand Burpee Home Gardens with innovative products and programs. Starting in 2012, the brand will include a collection of flowers from seed and cuttings that become a living representation of Burpee’s heritage. Burpee’s Boost program promotes vegetable varieties that were selected for high nutritional value. Also new this year is the Burpee Garden Coach–a friendly electronic tool that helps consumers design vegetable and flower gardens, print out shopping lists, and provides regular reminders for watering and fertilizing to ensure success.