Conquering space — a matter of choice

By Lynette L. Walther | Mar 09, 2018
Photo by: Lynette L. Walther A compact zucchini, "Astia," from Renee’s Garden Seeds, makes the most in the least amount of space. This compact zucchini grows fast and produces early and often.

Every year it seems the vegetable garden usurps a bit more turf — inch by inch it grows. But even though it expands each season, it seems we never have enough space to grow everything we’d like. That “garden creep” can only go so far in my tiny yard, so every year I have to make the tough choices of what will be included and what won’t.

More often than not, the choices boil down to economics as well as space. I mean, why donate valuable garden space to those vegetables that can be bought easily and economically, and why not allocate precious garden territory to those choice and often expensive varieties that cannot be replicated with market offerings?

Now add some new offerings and we’ve got a real dilemma on our hands. Here are some of this year’s AAS winners to help make your space challenge more challenging.

"Chili Pie" pepper: A unique miniature bell pepper that is mildly hot when fruits turn red. These peppers are compact, easy to grow and adapt well to container or small garden planting. Another plus is their dark green foliage and ability to set fruit even under hot, humid conditions. Each plant yields 25 to 30 fruits and can be eaten fresh or cooked. “A word to the wise,” cautioned one judge, “plant these opposite side of your garden from your sweet bells – I only absentmindedly confused the two once!”

"Gold in Gold" watermelon: “Eye-catching and fun” was one judge’s comment about “Gold in Gold” Watermelon. The fruit’s outer color is yellow with golden stripes, while the inner flesh is a lovely orange/gold. Crisp texture with high sugar content is also an advantage. This winner is an early-producing, high-yielding and improved disease-resistant melon with a strong rind that resists cracking or bursting. The unique oblong shape of the 11-to-16-pound fruit makes it a perfect “icebox” watermelon and the tasty fruit is superior.

"Mad Hatter" pepper: This exotic pepper wins on uniqueness alone. However, the plant’s vigor, earliness, high yields, large size and awesome taste all contribute to its high score among AAS' judges. Mad Hatter is a member of the Capsicum baccatum pepper species from South America commonly used in Bolivian and Peruvian cuisine. You can impress your friends by growing this pepper and showing off the novel, three-sided shape and deliciously sweet taste. The taste has a refreshing, citrusy floral flavor that remains sweet, only occasionally expressing mild heat near the seeds. Be prepared for vigorous and robust plants that are easy to grow because they were bred for North America’s many growing conditions. Use your abundant harvest raw in salads, pickled or stuffed with cheese.

"Bossa Nova" zucchini-like squash: The beautiful dark and light green mottled exterior of this zucchini is more pronounced than other varieties on the market, which sets it apart and makes the fruits easier to see during a long and prolific harvest. Compact plants produce fruits earlier in the season and continue producing for three weeks longer than comparison varieties. During taste tests, the AAS judges deemed the smooth flesh texture and sweet, mild taste much improved over other summer squash.

First dibs on space in our vegetable always goes to tomatoes. It goes without saying that homegrown tomatoes are one of the tip-top home-garden favorites. This year we’ll be trying something new from Renee’s Garden Seeds, a “chocolate” tomato — "Tasmanian Chocolate." These compact plants produce an abundance of mahogany-chocolate-colored tomatoes that taste heavenly, rich and sweet with a touch of earthiness for a great flavor balance. The heavy, juicy fruits are flattened, round and a little ruffled in shape. Sturdy plants have deep green, crinkly leaves and grow vigorously to about 3 feet tall — making them a perfect choice for container gardens as well.

If container vegetable gardening is the way you conquer space, then look to Renee’s Garden Seeds for many other choices perfect for container cultivation, like "Little Hero" container spinach, "Little Crunch" container snap peas, "Green Curls" container kale or "Astia" compact zucchini, "Sweetie Baby" Romaine container lettuce and large-leaf container basil, "Italian Cameo."

When growing space is at a premium, look up! Growing vining choices like these snow peas not only saves space, but produces plenty of sweet, snappy peas. (Photo by: Lynette L. Walther)
Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.