15 Veggie Rock Stars
These vegetable and herb varieties won't hit the stage or go on tour, but they definitely have their fans. Some are popular because they're familiar garden favorites, while others sell out fast because they're new and exciting.
©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited
©2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited
'Jersey Boy' Hybrid Tomato
A hybrid of the popular 'Brandywine' and 'Rutgers' tomatoes, 'Jersey Boy' has a sweet and sour tang and classic, tomato-red color. The indeterminate plants bear heavily, producing 8 to 10-ounce tomatoes.
'Cha Cha Chive' Chives
According to Burpee, herbs account for 13% of the plants in our backyard gardens. 'Cha Cha Chive' is one of the most popular chive varieties. It's unusual because its flowerheads aren't actually flowers; they're heads of mini leaves. You can pinch the leafy heads, which have a mild, onion-y taste, to eat fresh or flavor or garnish other foods. ‘Cha Cha Chive’ is also cute enough to grow as an ornamental or snip for vases.
'Bright Lights' Chard
Add some glam to your garden with 'Bright Lights' Swiss chard. This leafy crop has a mild flavor and lots of vibrant colors, including pink, red, yellow, burgundy and orange. An AAS winner, 'Bright Lights' tolerates heat and grows in 55 to 60 days.
Tomatoes are the biggest rock stars in home vegetable gardens, and 'SuperSauce' is one of the most popular roma varieties. This tomato is great for cooks who make tomato sauce or paste, and it's meaty enough to slice for salads or sandwiches. The indeterminate plants resist disease and produce fruits that weigh up to 2 pounds each.
'Thunderbolt' Hybrid Sweet Pepper
Rock stars are often colorful and flashy, and 'Thunderbolt' sweet peppers don't disappoint. These Marconi peppers start out green and become red as they grow to 13 inches long. The prolific plants resist tomato spotted wilt virus and tobacco mosaic virus.
'Triple Treat' Watermelon
'Triple Treat' watermelons make the A-list in backyard gardens thanks to their sugary-sweet, juicy flesh. The round, striped melons weigh about 8 to 10 pounds when ripe and score extra points with gardeners because they're nearly seedless.
'Big Kahuna' Bush Bean
This bush bean is a big star in small gardens. The crispy pods grow to 11 inches long and have a delicious, nutty flavor. 'Big Kahuna' stays compact, at about 2 feet tall, so it's useful in containers, too.
'Big Yummy' Hybrid Tomato
'Big Yummy' has great disease resistance, earning its spot among the most popular determinate tomato varieties. The nearly seedless fruits have enough sugar to give them a sweet, yet tangy, tomato flavor.
'Monte Gusto' Pole Bean
You’ll probably want to trellis ‘Monte Gusto’, an in-demand wax pole bean variety. The plants yield delicious, yellow beans that grow to 8 or 8 ½ inches long (although you can harvest them earlier, if you prefer). They mature in 70 to 80 days.
Salsa fans have made cilantro the second-most popular herb in home gardens, says the Burpee 2015 Retail Seed Report. 'Calypso' is a top variety and the slowest bolting cilantro available. The plants are prolific and fragrant and have a citrus-y flavor.
'Cupcake' Summer Squash
Green cupcakes? These round summer squash with soft, zucchini-like skins aren't really for desert; they have a sweet-and-savory taste. Try 'Cupcake' roasted, grilled, boiled or stuffed.
'Summer Dance' Hybrid Cucumber
In the cucumber category, high marks go to 'Summer Dance' for its ability to resist powdery and downy mildews, and its tolerance to heat. This Japanese burpless variety bears lots of glossy, green fruits with a refreshing, sweet flavor.
Prized for its slowness to bolt, 'Summerlong' is packed with flavor. This bright green basil is also pretty enough to use as an edging for garden beds or to grow in containers. Basil, according to the Burpee 2015 Retail Seed Forecast, is the most popular herb in home gardens, accounting for almost a fourth of all the herbs we grow.
'Fresh Pickles' Cucumbers
Plant ‘Fresh Pickles’ in pots for your patio or grow it in a garden bed. Each compact plant is a strong performer, yielding up to 55 cucumbers that you can turn into yummy pickles. This variety has good resistance to downy mildew.
'Blue Lake' Green Beans
Perennially popular 'Blue Lake' green beans are stringless. The straight pods, which contain white seeds, are meaty, tender, and sweet, great for cooking or preserving.