New vegetables showcased at the 2015 California Spring Trials (CAST) offer plenty of opportunities for growers to focus on unique, flavorful vegetables and edible plants that also hold ornamental value. Here are a few of the new varieties Editor Laura Drotleff and Group Editor Carol Miller spotted at 2015 CAST.
Artemesia ‘Cola Plant’ (Hishtil Nurseries)
‘Cola Plant’ has a great cola scent, and tea can be made out of its young leaves. It is a great culinary herb for fresh sauces, salads and roast.
Basil ‘Dolce Fresca’ (PanAmerican Seed)
‘Dolce Fresca’ produces a mid-sized plant with a unique bushy habit and shorter internodes. It shows better at retail than traditional basils and holds its nice, controlled size in the garden with more usable leaf yields. When other basils get tall and leggy, ‘Dolce Fresca’ remains mounded and tidy while still maintaining a traditional basil flavor and leaf size.
Basil ‘Herbalea Green Fortune’ (Cultivaris)
Herbalea basils are chosen from Plug Collection trials for their exceptional disease resistance to downy mildew, fusarium and botrytis. Plants range from lime green to dark red. Their aroma varies from delicately mild to strong and pungent. ‘Herbalea Green Fortune’ is a vigorous, bright-green basil with strong stems.
Cabbage ‘Red Hawk’ (Syngenta)
‘Red Hawk’ cabbage is a strong performer even in warm, temperate regions.
Celery ‘Peppermint Stick’ (Burpee)
The striped candy-pink and green stalks of ‘Peppermint Stick’ shade to green leaves over the season. Intense, full-flavored celery is perfect for any kitchen garden, with abundant yields of 1/4-inch stalks. It is a great addition to herb planters and mixed combo planters. ‘Peppermint Stick’ is slow to bolt and has a long harvest period.
Eggplant ‘Shikou’ (Sakata Vegetables)
‘Shikou’ is a long, Asian-type eggplant with dark, glossy fruit that measures 6- to 8-inches long by 1- to 1 ½-inches wide. Plants are semi-spineless and have a purple calyx (stem). Fruit quality is high, and the fruits have few seeds, a white interior and thin, tender skin.
Kale ‘Kosmic’ (HGTV Home Plant Collection)
This bicolored kale was bred by Dick Degenhardt in the Netherlands and is propagated by root cuttings. It has blue-green leaves with slightly ruffled edges and creamy white margins. ‘Kosmic’s’ perennial habit allows for continuous harvests throughout the season.
Rungia klossii (Mushroom Plant) (Hishtil Nurseries)
This Rungia variety has a delicious mushroom flavor. Its glossy green leaves contain high amounts of iron, vitamin C and beta carbonate. Mushroom plants grow well in warm conditions and like the shade. They work well in containers or the garden.
Simply Salad Kale Storm (PanAmerican Seed)
Kale Storm is the first multi-species, multi-pellet seed for salad. It is easy to grow with quick crop times and only one multi-pellet is needed. When finished cool, Kale Storm produces more vivid colors. Pellets can be direct sown in 4- to 6-inch pots and color bowls.
Strawberry ‘Montana’ (ABZ Seeds)
The medium, compact plants of ‘Montana’ produce an abundance of large, snow-white flowers and sweet flavored fruits during the whole summer. These characteristics make ‘Montana’ well suited for combined culture with the FleuroStar-winning Strawberry ‘Toscana.’
Strawberry ‘Ruby Ann’ (ABZ Seeds)
‘Ruby Ann’ is an eye-catcher with its ruby-red flower color. Compact plants produce a cascade of flowers and sweet fruits during the whole summer. The medium-sized fruits have a typical strawberry-like conical shape. ‘Ruby Ann’ is suitable for hanging baskets in the ornamental market.
Tomato ‘Olivia’ (Hazera)
‘Olivia’ is a grape/mini-plum variety that produces consistently sized and flavored fruit across all conditions. Its vigor gives it a long growing season, producing anywhere from 14 to 25 trusses. ‘Olivia’s’ firm fruit holds up well during prolonged transport from field to market. Its consistent fruit size makes it easy to pack.
Tomato ‘Summer Girl’ (Burpee)
‘Summer Girl’ is an indeterminate variety, often finishing in 49 to 52 days, two weeks earlier than tomatoes of equal size. Plants feature good disease tolerance for verticillium and fusarium.
Tomato ‘Summerpick’ (Syngenta)
‘Summerpick’ is a determinate beefsteak that produces large 11-ounce fruits with flavor balanced flavor between acid and sweet. It is also multi-disease resistant.
Tomato ‘Think Pink’ (Sakata)
‘Think Pink’ is a globe-shaped salad tomato with large, 8-ounce fruits and a beautiful raspberry-pink color. Its outstanding smooth taste is well balanced between acidity and sweetness. It is indeterminate, disease resistant and very productive, yielding firm and flavorful fruit.
TomTato ‘Ketchup ‘n’ Fries’ (HGTV Home Plant Collection)
‘Ketchup ‘n’ Fries’ features above-ground tomatoes and below-ground potatoes on the same plant. This grafted combination is a great container plant and will perform equally as well in the garden.
Watermelon ‘Ocelot’ (Hazera)
‘Ocelot’ is a mini watermelon with excellent taste and texture. Plants yield uniform, round fruits (about size 8 or 8 melons/box). ‘Ocelot’ is high-yielding with a nice, tiger-striped rind and deep-red flesh. It has a high Brix (12 to 13), and its thick rind helps during shipping.