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Gardening Articles: Edibles :: Vegetables

Better Performing New Veggies (page 2 of 4)

by Charlie Nardozzi

Earlier Maturity

Varieties that grow and mature faster can offer great advantages for gardeners who live where the growing season is short. If you've ever watched your first crop of still-green tomatoes succumb to a September frost, you know the value of these fast varieties. Gardeners in long-season areas can use these to squeeze in second and third harvests.

Bean, Bush

'Valdor' wax (50 days). This high-yielding, excellent-flavored bean is one of the earliest yellow bush beans available.


'Early Dawn' (58t days). Vigorous hybrid plants produce 3-pound dense, creamy white heads.


'Kandy Kwik' (67 days). An earlier-maturing version of the sugar-enhanced (SE) hybrid 'Kandy Korn'. Testers liked the compact, sturdy stalks but judged flavor no better than that of other early yellow varieties.

'Yukon Chief' (55 days). An exceptionally early dwarf yellow sweet corn developed in Alaska. It has excellent tolerance of cold soil conditions.


'Fourth of July' (42t days). This determinate hybrid variety produces fruits the size of 'Early Girl', but 12 days earlier.

Improved Growth or Disease Resistance

Varieties that grow better or resist pests are not as glamorous as those that look or taste better, but they are a godsend to gardeners who have watched a plant collapsing under an attack from insects or disease.

Bean, Filet

'Nickel' (55 days). A stronger-growing, more weather- and disease-tolerant version of this very slender type of green bush bean. The stringless, 4-inch-long beans grow high on the plant for easy picking.


'Autumn King' (70 days). This reintroduced heirloom produces 7- to 9-inch-long roots that keep well in winter storage.


'Sweet Symphony' (75 days). A bicolor hybrid that's as sweet as the supersweets (Sh2) but with the vigor, yield, and cold-soil performance of a sugar-enhanced (SE) variety.


'Sweet Burpless' (60 days). This gynoecious (produces mostly female flowers) slicing cucumber produces huge 10-inch, burpless fruits. Testers were impressed with hybrid plants' ability to withstand adverse weather. Flavor is average, but fruits contain only a few large seeds.


'Winter Sun' (60 days). This easy-to-grow red loose-leaf lettuce has better cold tolerance and growth for fall and winter growing in mild areas compared with most varieties. 'Winter Marvel' is a green version.


'French Orange' (75 days). This hybrid cross between a Charentais and a typical cantaloupe has Charentais flavor, but ripeness is easier to tell by the color change on the skin. 'Honeydew Temptation' (85 days). This early-ripening, orange-fleshed hybrid honeydew has added disease resistance.


'Ruby' (95t days). This Russian heirloom pimento has a sheepnose shape and thick, sweet flesh. Testers in warmer areas of the South had the best success with 'Ruby', and liked the vigorous plants and large fruits.


'Forest Fire' (50t to 55t days). Determinate vines produce larger, firmer, and more crack-resistant fruits earlier than other early varieties such as 'Sub-Arctic Maxi'.

'Irish Setter' (60t days). An indeterminate seedless version of 'Oregon Spring', with better tolerance to both green shoulders and adverse growing conditions. Good for greenhouse production.

'Mule Team' (86t days). This indeterminate 10-ounce red tomato isn't fancy, but it produces dependably until frost. 'Red Rider' (64t days). An early beefsteak-type hybrid red tomato with good flavor and added resistance to disease and catfacing (cracking around the stem end of the fruits).

'Tappy's Heritage' (85t days). An improved version of 'Tappy's Finest', with more uniform fruits and red color. The sweet, meaty fruits and the insect and disease resistance are similar to the original.


'Seedless Sugar Baby' (82 days). This watermelon, similar to the classic 'Sugar Baby', produces 8- to 9-pound fruits, but without the seeds.

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