The Best of the Test Garden: 2010

These 10 plants proved outstanding in our variety trials.

By Doug Hall

Photography by Christa Neu


‘Aton’ Basil
Source: High Mowing Organic Seeds
aton basil

This ‘Genovese’-type sweet basil has the zesty taste we crave for pesto and salads, plus extra holding power in the garden. Short internodes—the spaces between leaves—result in a plant that is dense with foliage. Although it’s marketed as a compact variety, ‘Aton’ grew vigorously for us, reaching a height of 30 inches in some locations. The appearance of flowers, which can signal a decline in leaf quality, came later than for other basils.

“‘Aton’ didn’t start flowering as early as other varieties and was quick to regrow after pinching back. It had the best leaf production of all the basils we grew during our very wet summer.” —Kathy Shaw, Neenah, Wisconsin

‘Bitonto’ Cherry Tomato

Source: Territorial Seed Co.
bitonto cherry<br />

For a plant that grew barely a foot tall, ‘Bitonto’ amazed us with its prolific and early set of tart, bite-size fruits. This hybrid is a determinate variety, so after a productive harvest season, it relinquishes its spot for fall crops. It’s the right size for patio containers or hanging baskets, or wherever garden space is at a premium.

“This was a star performer, bearing scads of tomatoes in a large pot. The kids kept it stripped.” —Barbara Miller, Boulder, Colorado