Even though we devoted most of the Organic Gardening Test Garden to familiar older varieties and heirlooms in 2011, we couldn’t resist including a few new introductions. Our hope is always to discover something wonderfully distinctive and delicious among the new catalog offerings. These were our favorites.
‘Salt and Pepper’ Cucumber
This amazingly prolific pickling cucumber doubles as a tasty salad cuke. The white-skinned, 4-inch fruits are “a good size if you don’t want a lot of cuke at once,” one of our test gardeners says.
Source: Johnny’s Selected Seeds
If you’re looking for a winter squash that won’t send its vines wandering far and wide, this one fits the bill with a more restrained growth habit. The orange-fleshed fruits, up to 2 pounds in size, have a nutty sweetness.
Source: The Cook’s Garden
‘Ethereal Red-Veined’ Mizuna
This Asian green has the sharp, peppery flavor of mustard greens in a filigree form. Mizuna is a traditional ingredient in stir-fries and soups; we also found it tasty when added fresh to salads and sandwiches.
‘Sublime’ Sweet Pepper
With a longer shape than a traditional bell pepper, this was the largest of the sweet peppers we trialed. The hefty fruits mature from green to red. They’re thick-walled, so they hold up well on the grill.
Medium in size and uniform in shape, ‘Hijinks’ is a classic pumpkin for fall decoration. Our Dallas test gardener reported it produced well even in an extremely hot, dry summer.
Source: All-America Selections winner; widely available
Keep Reading: 7 Secrets for a High-Yield Vegetable Garden