Every year, seed companies tweak their offerings based on multiple factors. They ask themselves: What great new varieties have breeders developed? What are the trends in the marketplace? What have customers been requesting?
Here you will find a few highlights of 2020. Some flowers and vegetables are brand new to the market; others have been around for decades, and their merits are being newly appreciated. Try them out in your home garden and decide for yourself if they withstand your test of time.
Flowers in sophisticated shades and brilliant bi-colors
The folks at Americanmeadows.com know that gardeners and pollinators love zinnias, and they offer them in large size packets. Two that they’re enthusiastic about are (from left) Under the Sea Zinnia Mix, and luscious Coral Zinnia. Both are quick to bloom, 6-8 weeks from seed, and grow up to 40 inches tall.
Amazing Grey Poppy (Papaver rhoeas), from Wildseedfarms.com, is just that: amazing. Subtle, delicate and very chic, it’s a must have for the flower garden. Also new at Wildseed is the eye-popping petite Paquito Sunflower Mix. Only 20 inches tall, the seeds can be purchased by the packet or by the ounce.
Silver Moon Hyacinth Bean Vine (Lablab purpureus), new from Burpee.com, has white flowers and silvery, shiny 3-inch pods. Climbing 20 feet in a single season, it will cover your trellis with blooms that glow in the moonlight.
Fiery Campfire Rudbeckia (Rudbeckia hirta), from Hudsonvalleyseed.com, has unique coloration and big, wide petals. Easy to grow, the pollen attracts native bee species, and birds love the seeds.
Late Season Pumpkins and Squash
The visionary staff at Highmowingseeds.com touts Pie-Pita F1 Hulless Pumpkin as dual purpose, with hullless seeds great for roasting and sweet, rich flesh. In addition, Autumn Frost F1 Moschata Squash was proclaimed by one High Mowing Seeds trial team member as her “favorite winter squash, ever!”
The folks at Rohrerseeds.com have their own favorite pumpkin: Pepitas Pumpkin, named for its hulless seeds (pepitas). The fashionable 9-12 lb fruit won a 2016 All America Selections National Award in the edibles category.
More Great Cucurbits
Sweetie Pie Watermelon, another offering from Rohrerseeds.com, is a sugar baby type with knockout flavor. Sweet, slightly crunchy, and very juicy, it grows to 13 pounds.
Reneesgarden.com suggests training Baby Spaghetti Squash on a trellis or fence; its 4-5 inch fruits will hang like ornaments. The mini spaghetti squashes cook up quickly, and are great topped with pizza sauce and cheese.
Arkansas Little Leaf Cucumbers, from Lakevalleyseed.com, produces a profusion of 4 inch, dual-purpose cucumbers for pickling and fresh eating. The compact vines are well suited for containers and small gardens.
Galahad Tomato, from Territorialseed.com, has it all: high yield, disease resistance, and taste. The 3-inch fruits are clean and crack resistant, and the 4-foot plants are sturdy. No wonder it is a 2020 All America Selections winner!
Burpee.com has proclaimed Bodacious Hybrid Tomato its new superstar. Large 10-12 ounce fruits grow in clusters on compact 5-6 foot disease resistant plants, which can yield 40-50 fruits in a season.
Moonbeam Grape Tomato, from Highmowingseeds.com, is a unique addition to the Galaxy Suite of tomatoes developed at Cornell. Visual appeal and unbeatable flavor make this productive plant a winner.
Spring Garden Treats
Patio Pride Pea, a 2017 All America Selections Winner offered by Lakevalleyseeds.com, is a great choice for balcony growers. The compact plants are loaded with 2-3 inch pods just 40 days after germination.
Silky Sweet Hybrid Turnip, from Burpee.com, is best harvested at no larger than 3 inches. Described as “seductively snacky,” the satiny roots are ready for harvest 2 months after an early spring sowing.
Hudsonvalleyseed.com is offering two distinct wild greens; both are types of Brassica rapa. Deitrich’s Wild Broccoli Raab is a biennial, best planted in late spring. Harvest the tender green flower shoots very early the following spring—and every spring thereafter if you allow the plants to self-sow. Greens are edible too. Rainbow Tatsoi sports purple outer leaves, pink stems, and green hearts. Sow in spring 3-4 weeks before the last frost, and a second crop later in the season. Harvest the whole head, which is larger than traditional tatsoi.
Purples and Pinks
Mars Landing Kale is another beautiful offering from Reneesgarden.com. The tender leaves are a wonderful bronzy purple/maroon, with notched and scalloped edges. Mild, tasty, and nutrition packed, it holds well in the garden. Also from Renee’s, the stunningly gorgeous Purple Crush Cauliflower is delicious and packed with extra antioxidants.
The folks at Trueleafmarket.com love Pink Lipstick Swiss Chard. In the garden its deep green savoyed leaves and magenta stalks look entirely too pretty to harvest. Or grow it as a microgreen, cut at about 2 weeks, and enjoy the colorful bursts of nutrition in salads, sandwiches, or anything else that would benefit from added taste and beauty.
Four More Greens
Gardeners plagued by basil powdery mildew will be excited to see two new offerings from Harrisseeds.com: Basil Prospera® and Basil Rutgers Passion DMR. Both are aromatic and bolt resistant, and offer the long lasting production we could always count on before basil downy mildew struck. Both are suitable for growing in the garden or in containers.
Mini Mint (Mentha requienii), from Territorialseed.com is a highly fragranced, ornamental, diminutive mint that will capture your heart. Delightful in containers or as a tidy ground-hugger, it is strongly flavored, perhaps too strong for most culinary uses. Seeds are pelleted. Also from Territorial, Amara European Kale (Brassica carinata) has a flavor described as “complex, with overtones of spice and garlic.” Technically a mustard, the leaves can be harvested at the baby stage or later in the season, and they can be eaten fresh, or used in cooked dishes or soups.