Tag Archives: Burpee Home Gardens

New Plants in 2015, as viewed from Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show

I just attended the Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show (MANTS) at the Baltimore Convention Center. Walking the aisles at MANTS takes at least one day, if not two. There are over 900 exhibitors from across the country and more than 10,000 attendees every year. These are wholesale companies reaching out to other companies, including independent garden centers (IGCs). Garden communicators such as myself attend to learn “what’s new,” identify trends, meet the owners, and connect with other garden communicators. Garden communicators serve as a conduit or bridge between the wholesale companies or the “field” and the public. We see what is available and communicate that back to the public, i.e., the customers. We serve a valuable role in communicating the “what’s new” or “what’s cool” before it even gets to a print magazine or in the IGCs. Below are a few new things I learned about at MANTS with a focus on edibles. Keep in mind that because MANTS is a trade show, some of the companies are wholesale so you will have to either visit the link to ask if they can locate a retailer or ask your IGC if they will carry these products.

Making Healthy Eating Easier

mighty2matogardenamericaGrafted vegetables are making healthy eating easier by reducing disease and soil-borne problems. Grafted tomato plants have been on the market for several years now but what is new this year are the Mighty 2 Matos, double grafted plants with two tomato varieties. Two different tomato varieties are grafted on to one disease-resistant rootstock, taking advantage of a vigorous and disease/nematode resistant root system while providing two types of delicious tomatoes. For example, with one plant you can harvest Blush Tiger and Green Tiger tomatoes, or Brandywine and Cherokee Purple, or Indigo Cherry Drops and Indigo Pear Drops, or Pink Berkeley Tie Dye and Pork Chop, or Sun Sugar and Sweet Aperitif.  http://www.mightymato.com

Burpee Home Gardens also sells grafted tomatoes; they have 15 varieties in their Bumper Crop Grafted Tomatoes line. The Big Collection features large tomatoes; the Bold Collection consists of the Indigo varieties; the Early Collection has plants that bloom and fruit early in the season; while Black Pear Heirloom and Red Pear Heirloom make up the Small-fruited Pear types. http://www.burpeehomegardens.com

Even more interesting is the new Ketchup ‘n’ Fries, a tomato plant grafted onto a potato plant. I had written about this in my December 17 article but at the time I thought Ketchup ‘n’ Fries was only available from Territorial Seed. I learned at MANTS that it is also available from GardenAmerica. http://www.gardenamerica.com

microgreensPart of why I garden is for healthy eating which is a challenge in the winter. I have been interested in micro-greens for some time now as a winter project. Micro-greens are different from sprouts, they are the seedling stage of edibles such as lettuce, radish, chard, kale, spinach, etc. You start them in a shallow container of soil, indoors, and cut them when they are only a few inches tall to put in a salad. I had a nice chat with Sandy Merrill at the Chas. C. Hart Seed Company who had a small container of micro-greens at her booth. They were quite tasty; I could see how easy it would be to grow them. She gave me a packet of “Veggie Confetti,” which I started this week and I will keep you posted on their progress in future articles. The Chas. C. Hart Seed Company has been in business for over 100 years and sells a wide range of seed at garden centers. http://www.hartseed.com

Keeping it Small

Visiting MANTS confirmed what I have been reading, there is a trend towards small edibles, or container edibles. Pixie Grape is a new line of natural dwarf grape plants. Developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, they only grow to 2 feet high and 1 foot wide.  They do not grow tendrils like regular grape vines do; they tend to put their energy in clusters of flowers, hence they fruit year round. Hardy to zone 3, they can be grown in the ground or in a container. Four types will be introduced: Cabernet Franc, Pinot Meunier Purple, Pinot Meunier White, and Riesling. http://www.plugconnection.com and http://www.gardenamerica.com

BRAZELBERRIES pink icing - all rights reserved c2014 LAB 2The Brazelberries Collection, developed by Fall Creek Farm & Nursery, Inc., is introducing Pink Icing, a diminutive blueberry bush. Pink Icing’s new spring foliage is pink, eventually turning to green in the summer, and blue/green in the fall. The blueberries themselves are large, appearing in mid-summer. Hardy to zone 5, this 3-4 foot shrub would make a great container plant on the deck. All Brazelberries are small enough for containers and hardy to zone 4 or 5. In case you missed the other members of the family there is a raspberry called Raspberry Shortcake (see June 2014 article) and three more blueberries:  Peach Sorbet, Jelly Bean, and Blueberry Glaze. http://www.brazelberries.com

New Landscape Edibles

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPlants that serve the dual purpose of staying in the ground year round to beautify the landscape while providing food is another trend displayed at MANTS. Proven Winners has a new landscape edible for its Vitamin Berries line: Sugar Mountain Sweetberry honeysuckle. Related to honeysuckles, these are native shrubs also known as haskaps. Sugar Mountain Blue produces blue berries on large hedge-type plants that are more than 5 feet high and wide. The berries look like tubular blueberries but they do not require the acidic soil that blueberries require. Hardy to zone 2, these shrubs will fruit without pollination but will produce larger fruit if allowed to cross pollinate with another bush. Hence, Proven Winners also developed Sugar Mountain Balalaika, Sugar Mountain Eisbar, and Sugar Mountain Kalinka. http://www.provenwinners.com

Lo Hugger 2I also discovered the ‘Lo-Hugger’ American cranberry. I always thought of cranberries as northern bog plants but this is evergreen groundcover that can be grown in wet or dry soil, sun or part shade.  It grows to about 6 inches high, spreads out a couple of feet and produces pink flowers followed by edible, red berries. Hardy to zone 4, it is a fast growing, winter hardy plant. It also is a four-season interest, landscape edible – the foliage remains on the plant during the winter turning to red/bronze and then back to green in the summer. http://www.upshoothort.com

Packaging is Everything

I was surprised to learn that the Netherland Bulb Company, famous for spring flowering bulbs like tulips and daffodils, promotes quite a line of edibles. They sell everything from elderberry, goji berry, asparagus, horseradish, garlic, rhubarb, Dutch onions, shallots, raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, strawberry, pine berry, grapes, to organic and regular potatoes. I saw a wonderful display of boxed organic potato tubers, guaranteed to sell. You don’t have to put your hands in old bins to pick up dirty tubers. Packaging is important, if it is clean and easy to pick up and buy, it sells. http://www.netherlandbulb.compotato (2)

Walters Seed Company is another company that has capitalized on beautiful packaging. Houseplant, herb, and flower seeds and a soil pellet come in these adorable biodegradable containers. Seed Gems make great gifts, can be customized for party favors, and the boxes can be imprinted with special messages. Simply add water to the soil pellet, add seeds and grow. When the plant is ready to be placed in a larger pot or outside, put the entire biodegradable pot in the soil. Who wouldn’t buy these for Mother’s Day, a shower, or wedding. http://www.walters-seed.comseed gemsseed gems (2)

New Veggie and Flower Varieties for 2015 on National Garden Bureau Site

Butterscotch, photo courtesy of the National Garden Bureau

Butterscotch, photo courtesy of the National Garden Bureau

It is great fun to flip through seed catalogs and dream of enticing veggies and beautiful flowers for the upcoming growing season.  I usually create list after list of plants I want to grow, searching for ones I had read about in the past year or searching for qualities such as “cold hardiness,” “heat resistant,” or “attracts beneficial insects.” Because I don’t receive every catalog (there are so many), I often turn to the National Garden Bureau (NGB) website to learn of more varieties.  Founded in 1920, the NBG is an Illinois-based, non-profit organization. Its mission is to improve the quality of life and the environment through increased seeds and plants. Individual and corporate members engaged in the production and/or sale of horticultural products for home gardeners pay dues to support the NGB. The web site lists more than 70 members, retail and wholesale.

Arugula Dragon's Tongue, photo courtesy of the National Garden Bureau

Arugula Dragon’s Tongue, photo courtesy of the National Garden Bureau

Each year, the members can list their new varieties through NGB. As of this week in December 2014, there are 45 “new for 2015” vegetable varieties and 62 “new for 2015” flower varieties. For each plant there is a short description, cultural requirements, and the member organization offering the seed (although it may be wholesale in which case you would have to contact them for a retail outlet). Note that “new” means new to that company, not new to the market. For example, Arugula Dragon’s Tongue is listed as new for 2015 and is offered by Botanical Interests but it is not new to me, I have seen it in the Park Seed catalog. Butterscotch is new, it is a mini butternut winter squash developed by Johnny’s Selected Seeds. The NGB also is a great way to learn about seed companies — R.H. Shumway, Totally Tomatoes, and Vermont Bean Seed were new to me so I added them plus a few more to my “seed catalogs” page/tab on my blog at http://www.pegplant.com.

Burpee's Costa Rican, a type of sweet pepper, photo courtesy of the National Garden Bureau

Burpee’s Costa Rican, a type of sweet pepper, photo courtesy of the National Garden Bureau

There are many more features on the NBG website including plants of the year. Each year they select one annual, one perennial, and one edible as plant of the year because they are popular, easy to grow, widely adaptable, genetically diverse, and versatile. For 2015, the plants of the year are: coleus (annual), gaillardia (perennial), and sweet peppers ( edible). Sign up to receive NBG’s e-mails and expect to hear more from them on these plants next year!

New Plants Coming for Edible Gardens

When I wrote gardening articles for Chesapeake Home magazine, I would write an article every spring about new plant introductions. In the same vein, the following are a few new plants I learned from attending the Independent Garden Center (IGC) show at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Maryland. The IGC is “America’s largest marketplace for gardening products and plants.” As a trade show, I was allowed to attend as press, listen to speakers, as well as visit hundreds of booths where wholesale companies showed their products or plants to retail garden center staff. The following are new plants or ideas that I thought would be useful to people who are interested in edible gardening, have limited time & space, or are new to gardening in the Washington DC metropolitan area. Some of these will appear next year but if you don’t see these products in your local garden center, either ask for them or contact the company directly. This August 8 post will focus on plants and my next post will focus on products.

When growing veggies, I am very aware of color and size. Tiffany Heater, Burpee Home Gardens Program Representative, showed me ‘Tangerine Dream,’ a compact pepper plant with bright orange peppers. Perfect for containers, patios, and edible landscapes, these tapered peppers look like hot peppers but only have a “hint of heat.” She also showed me Ruby Frills Basil, a frilly purple basil plant that can be used in containers with other plants for color and culinary use. Burpee of course is a well known name with a wide variety of plants and seeds, but it is important to note that they have a Patio-Ready line of veggies and herbs for those who live in condos or apartments.

This is dating me but I remember years ago when HGTV was new and it was just one television show. This week, I met Allison Beukema, Marketing Manager with HGTV Home Plant Collection, who explained to me how HGTV has grown so much it is now HGTV Home with many shows; a glossy, full color magazine; a great web site; and now the HGTV Home Plant Collection. The HGTV Home Plant Collection consists of Expression Annuals, Essential Perennials, Smart & Stylish Shrubs, and Patio Veggies & Herbs. Because we were talking about edibles, she showed me the Patio Veggies & Herbs collection featuring “container ready, edible style for the patio” plants. Next year, your local garden center may be selling compact veggies like basil, eggplant, cucumbers, tomatoes, sweet peppers, and hot peppers in white plastic pots with green “HGTV Home” imprinted on the side.

I was fortunate to run into David Wilson, Director of Marketing at Overdevest Nurseries – I had met him years ago at another gardening event and he was as enthusiastic as ever. He showed me the Footprints Edibles, “the next generation of gardening.” Footprint Edibles includes blueberries, peppers, strawberries, rhubarb, Swiss chard, tomatoes, and many different kinds of herbs. His booth had racks of plants in biodegradable pots plus a mini cooking show. While Jonathan Bardzik, a local Washington DC chef, was demonstrating how to cook with these plants, David showed me how the plant tags are imbedded with a code. He scanned the Basil ‘Thai Magic’ with the digimarc app on his phone, which started a videotape of Jonathan making Thai Basil Whipped Cream. I told David I had seen QRC codes on plant tags before and they linked to recipes. He explained that this is different because it links to a video. (Naturally, after I got home, I downloaded the app, scanned the code on the Basil ‘Thai Magic’ picture on the brochure, and it worked!). In addition to this feature, the Footprints Edibles web site has many recipes and videos showing you how to cook with the veggie or herb you just bought. It isn’t just about the plant but how you can use it in the kitchen!

Chef Jonathan Bardzik demonstrating cooking with Footprints Edibles plants

Chef Jonathan Bardzik demonstrating cooking with Footprints Edibles plants

My next stop was Proven Winners, which will be introducing the Sugar Mountain series of haskap plants (Lonicera caerulea). These are very hardy plants that produce a blueberry type of fruit. They are supposed to be shrub like, not as particular about soil as blueberries, and deer resistant. Recently, Proven Winners introduced the Lifeberry series of goji berry plants (Lycium barbarum) and mine are doing well. These types of shrubs are easy ways to get fruit and the beneficial antioxidants in your diet. I then crossed over the aisle and talked with Heather Gartner of Pleasant View, which also grows plants for Proven Winners but specializes in annuals and perennials. Heather is a gardener herself and together we looked at the Proven Winners 2015 Collection book, which is over 250 pages, looking for perennials known to attract pollinators, which are necessary for growing vegetables and fruit. Heather recommended ‘Cat’s Meow’ catmint, which provides a lot of purple flowers, and the Color Spires line of perennial salvias (‘Pink Dawn’ was cool). I then admired a tropical plant in her booth, a Cuphea hybrid that will be introduced in 2015. ‘Vermillionaire’ was in full bloom with many small, orange tubular flowers. At my home in Virginia, it would be grown as an annual, but it would flower well in the hot humid summers and would attract many hummingbirds!

Sugar Mountain Blue Haskap

Sugar Mountain Blue Haskap