Garden Expert Tries New Fruits, Vegetables

10 March 2024

Jessica Damiano says crops like tomatoes, garlic, chives, basil, parsley, thyme, and sage have been permanent plants in her garden for ages. Damiano, a gardening expert who writes for The Associated Press, says every year, she experiments with new – or new to her – crops.

Many do not stay in her garden for long, like the Voyager tomatoes that lack taste or the goji berries she could not seem to eat. But others, like 8-ball zucchini, rainbow Swiss chard, and golden beets have earned permanent homes in her raised beds.

This year's new introductions are available in seed catalogs in the U.S.

This image provided by Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. shows Lila Lu Sang carrots, which are deep purple on the outside and bright orange on the inside. (Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co./ via AP)
This image provided by Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. shows Lila Lu Sang carrots, which are deep purple on the outside and bright orange on the inside. (Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co./ via AP)

Four small apple trees from Plants Nouveau called Blushing Delight, Golden Treat, Tangy Green, and Tasty Red, work well for people like Damiano who have limited garden space. The trees grow to 2.5 to 3 meters tall and just a meter wide. And they will even grow in containers. You can plant two different kinds for cross-pollination and fruit production.

Another crop, Love Gourmansun beefsteak tomatoes from Burpee, is available in two different kinds that each produce 28-gram, heart-shaped fruits. Choose between Red and a yellow-red fruit called Sunrise. They grow in similar ways and taste similar, but have different disease resistance.

Damiano said she tested another crop from Burpee called Prism Sweet Peppers last summer. She said the sweet, bell-shaped fruits grew well in her garden. The productive plants also added beauty to her garden, as the crop turned from light green to orange and then red as the fruit aged. The result was many different colors of fruits on the plants at any one time.

The crop Quick Snack cucumbers are the newest addition to PanAm Seed's Kitchen Minis collection. They are small enough to be grown in a hanging basket or even indoors since they do not require pollination. The small cucumbers are crisp and sweet.

The Pastel Duo baby turnip seed mix, introduced from Japan by Renee's Garden, grows small, round roots in colors like pink and white. Both colors have a mild, sweet taste and thin skin that does not need to be removed.

Damiano says her Genovese basil plants often get the disease downy mildew more often than not. She said she is looking forward to growing Noga Prospera Active DMR organic basil, produced by Genesis Seeds. The plants are sold as "highly resistant" to the disease. But they are also slow to flower, which she says is another problem she often deals with in the height of the summer's heat.

Finally, the crop Lila Lu Sang carrots offered by Baker Seeds are just about as eye-catching as vegetables can get. They have a deep purple color on the outside and a bright orange color on the inside. But they are more than what one sees: they contain the gains of both purple and orange carrots. They are sweet, tasty and full of nutrients.

I'm Gregory Stachel.

Jessica Damiano reported this story for The Associated Press. Gregory Stachel adapted it for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

garden – n. an area of ground where plants (such as flowers or vegetables) are grown

catalog – n. a book containing a list of things that you can buy or use and often pictures

pollinate – v. to give (a plant) pollen from another plant of the same kind so that seeds will be produced

crisp – adj. pleasantly firm and making a sharp sound when chewed or crushed

mild – adj. not strong or harsh in taste

organic – adj. grown or made without the use of artificial chemicals