For the past 12 years, National Gardening Seed Testers have been growing and evaluating new vegetable varieties in their backyard gardens one year in advance of these varieties being released for sale. In the summer of 2000, testers grew 20 new varieties. This year's top 5 winners include an All America Selections winning pepper, plus a bush tomato, red lettuce, red radish, and a green bean.
'Rebel' radish - 30 days to maturity. This medium-sized red radish was the highest rated variety in our tests with 75% of the testers saying they'd buy it. Testers liked the lack of pithiness, the rich color, and its mild flavor. It had less cracking than comparison varieties grown such as 'Cherry Belle'.
'HM 5991' bean - 60 days to maturity. This bush green bean was loved by testers for its sturdy plant, which held the beans well off the ground; good germination; and high production of tender, crisp beans with good flavor.
'Giant Marconi' pepper - 72 days from transplant to maturity. This hybrid pepper is a 2001 All America Selections award winner. This elongated-shaped sweet pepper is larger, more productive, more disease-resistant, and matures to red faster than open-pollinated 'Marconi' peppers. Testers liked the large size, productive plants, and good taste of this award-winning variety.
'Bush Celebrity' tomato - 67 days from transplant to maturity. This hybrid, determinate variety is a bush variation of the popular and widely acclaimed 'Celebrity' tomato. Testers liked the managable plant size, yet were impressed with the number, size, and quality of the fruits on this bush plant. They also noted it didn't produce green-shouldered fruits.
'Red Butterworth' lettuce- 60 days to maturity. This red butterhead-type lettuce was noted for its fast germination and growth, attractive appearance, and ability to resist bolting. However, many testers said it was not unique but comparable to 'Red Sails' and other red-colored lettuces available today.
Although they didn't make our top 5 tested varieties, three other varieties tested should be mentioned for their unusual characteristics.
'Super Star' onion is another 2001 All America Selections winner and the first hybrid onion to ever win this award. It's noted for being a sweet white onion that grows equally well in the North and South from spring planting.
Kohlrabi may not be top on every veggie gardener's list, but 'Kossack' performed well in our trials, producing 8-inch-diameter, tender bulbs with a water chestnutlike texture that stayed tender even when large.
'Honey Select' yellow sweet corn is another 2001 All America Selections winner mixing the best characteristics of sugar-enhanced (Se) and supersweet (Sh2) hybrid corn. 'Honey Select' is 75% Se and 25% Sh2, so it grows well in cool soils, doesn't need isolation, and its ears mature slowly over time, yet it has a long-lasting, sweet taste.
Photography by All-American Selections