What's new, what's hot

Alberta Gardener Magazine - - Contents - By Ta­nia Mof­fat

It’s that time again where we share our picks of the hottest plants on the mar­ket this year. Some are old favourites from last year, and some are new re­leases for 2017. Peo­ple of­ten ask why they have a hard time find­ing some of the new in­tro­duc­tions. The first year a plant is released in the mar­ket, much smaller num­bers are avail­able to the pub­lic as the com­pany tri­als the plant and its pop­u­lar­ity with con­sumers. A word to the wise, new re­leases are not al­ways easy to find. They may take more time and com­mit­ment. I searched for some of my favourites for some time last year, be­fore I found them, but hav­ing found them, I felt like I had won the lot­tery. This year, 2016 in­tro­duc­tions will be eas­ier to find so those white pineber­ries should be ev­ery­where and the elu­sive cu­camelon is now avail­able through sev­eral seed cat­a­logues. Keep your eyes open while shop­ping, you never know where some of these favourites may show up. We hope you en­joy our picks and happy trea­sure hunt­ing.

Ed­i­bles: Take 2 Tomato Com­bos

A hard­work­ing, first-of-its-kind so­lu­tion for small space gar­den­ing! The new “Take 2” com­bos from Burpee fea­tures a slicer, and cherry tomato tri­aled to­gether for habit and fruit tim­ing. Gardeners will get a steady sup­ply of toma­toes from one con­tainer all sum­mer long. Avail­able in three com­bi­na­tions for spring 2017. Plants re­quire full sun and take 55 to 65 days to ma­ture.

‘Tepary Brown’ bean

New from some of our seed cat­a­logues, these beans are in­dige­nous to North America and developed by First Na­tions Peo­ple to be drought tol­er­ant. What we love about these beans is that they are higher in fiber and pro­tein than other beans and have a unique nutty, sweet flavour. They'll be great to use in dips, sal­ads, soups, casseroles and more! Ma­tures in 80 days.

‘Quet­zali’ wa­ter­melon

This wa­ter­melon is al­most seed­less and grows on short vines mak­ing it ideal for small gar­den spa­ces. The fruit ma­tures sooner than other mel­ons and has a sweet, smooth tex­ture. Try this in a pa­tio con­tainer! Ma­tures in 83 days.

‘Early Pur­ple Vi­enna’ kohlrabi

Try this twist on kohlrabi to cel­e­brate the year of the bras­sica. Kohlrabi is a de­li­cious veg­etable that tastes like a cross be­tween a turnip and cab­bage. You can eat them raw or cooked. We highly rec­om­mend us­ing them in coleslaws and sautéed. Ma­tures in 55 days.

‘Ori­ent Won­der’ beans

These long, slen­der, string­less bean pods are very crisp and ten­der. They are also known as as­para­gus beans or Chi­nese long beans. Ori­ent Won­der has great flavour and is a won­der­ful ad­di­tion to your gar­den. Ma­tures in 70 days.

Cu­camelon (Melothria scabra) These were hard to find last year but worth men­tion­ing again as they are so good. (Try your seed cat­a­logues to or­der them.) Cu­camel­ons are per­fect for snack­ing, pick­ling or adding to sal­ads. They are best started in­doors, and you can store their roots over­win­ter and re­plant them the fol­low­ing year.

Pineber­ries (Fra­garia ananassa) There are sev­eral types avail­able, and they were hard to find in nurs­eries last year, but we hear they will be more plen­ti­ful this year. These white hy­brid straw­ber­ries won’t pro­duce fruit un­til their sec­ond year, but their un­usual colour and pineap­ple like flavour are worth the wait. Hardy to Zone 2.

‘Robin’ beets

Baby beets that grow one to two inches round, they have dark stems and pretty green leaves. This is a great hy­brid that pro­duces uni­form beets ideal for eat­ing or pick­ling. Ma­tures in 25 to 30 days.

‘Mi­nor Sweet Baby’ corn

Baby corns per­fect for stir­fries and fresh eat­ing. They grow in sets of four to five cobs which can be har­vested just as the silks emerge. Plants will grow tall, but the cobs re­main minia­ture. Do not plant next to other corn va­ri­eties or they may cross-pol­li­nate.

Lemon grass (Cym­bo­pogon) This is a won­der­fully scented herb that will add a zesty lemon flavour to soups or stir­fries. It is com­monly used in Thai dishes and can be used as a non-toxic in­sect re­pel­lent and pot­pourri ad­di­tion.

‘Bal­le­rina Se­ries’ Datura (Datura stra­mo­nium) These flow­ers are lovely but poi­sonous so be­ware if you have chil­dren or pets. That said, these el­e­gant trum­pet­shaped flow­ers have an in­tri­cate com­bi­na­tion of petal whorls that are sim­ply beau­ti­ful. Also known as an­gel’s trum­pet, the flow­ers are highly fra­grant and can grow three feet tall with six-inch blooms. Flow­ers are fol­lowed by highly or­na­men­tal, green prickly fruits. This se­ries of­fers pur­ple, white and yel­low blooms.

‘Tiger Eye Yel­low’ viola (Viola odor­ata) Stun­ning, pe­tite yel­low blooms with strik­ing black veins. These are sure to make a state­ment in any con­tainer or gar­den. Non-stop bloomers will add colour all sea­son long. They are also avail­able in or­ange.

‘Friz­zle Siz­zle’ viola (Viola odor­ata) This is one ec­cen­tric viola, with a daz­zling ap­peal in any gar­den. Blooms are sur­rounded by ruf­fled edges and come in vi­brant colours up to three inches wide. Avail­able in or­ange and a mix of colours.

‘Cal­i­for­nia Blue­bell’ (Phacelia cam­pan­u­laria) A true blue flower that is easy to grow, they at­tract ben­e­fi­cial in­sects and are early bloomers. Low grow­ing with sil­very fo­liage, they are drought tol­er­ant and look fab­u­lous in mass plant­ings. They grow six to 12 inches high.

‘Tepary Brown’ bean.

‘Ori­ent Won­der’ beans.

‘Mi­nor Sweet Baby’ corn.

‘Quet­zali’ wa­ter­melon.

Take 2 Tomato Combo.

Cu­camel­ons.

Pineber­ries.

Lemon­grass.

'Robin' Beets.

‘Cal­i­for­nia Blue­bell’.

‘Bal­le­rina Se­ries’ Datura.

‘Tiger Eye Yel­low’ viola.

‘Friz­zle Siz­zle’ viola.

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