How’d They Do? Gardeners Review the 2017 New Veggie Seeds

Last season’s veggies are harvested and the reviews are in! We are delighted to announce home gardeners’ favorite new vegetable seed varieties in 2017, based on actual garden performance. Grab your garden gloves and get ready!

Tomato Giant Garden Paste

You might not expect a paste (Roma) tomato to be a winner, but Giant Garden Paste was out to surprise everyone this year, beginning with quicker and higher than expected germination. A gardener named John reports that he sowed Giant Garden Paste seeds on March 19, and 3 days later had 100% germination . . . while the other tomato seeds in his tray were, a week later, still at 10-20% germ rate.

Giant Garden Paste is indeterminate, meaning that the vines continue to grow and set new fruit all season. So you would expect big, tall plants by July or August. But nothing prepared gardener Sue for the ultra-heavy 8-foot vines, laden with fruit, she was dealing with in late June! “They have lifted the cages out of the ground and pulled over posts with their weight,” Sue described. “But they seem to be worth the challenge as I’ve never had so many tasty, big, paste tomatoes.”

Another Giant Garden Paste grower reports that his vines began bearing fruit even before famous super-fast varieties like Early Girl. Not only were the tomatoes quick, they were BIG. This gardener proudly harvested his largest tomato ever: a Giant Garden Paste weighing 1 pound, 6 ounces! It’s going to be the #1 variety in his tomato garden for 2018 . . . and we suspect he’s not alone! So get out the sturdy plant supports and give Garden Giant Paste a whirl this season!

Watermelon Mini Love

Now we turn from a vigorous, take-over-the-world tomato to a restrained, plays-well-with-others watermelon. Mini Love Hybrid won an All-America Selection (AAS) for its compact habit and ability to be grown in containers. Yet we heard from many gardeners that it’s simply a great garden plant, too.

An Arkansas gardener reported that his Mini Loves shared the vertical supports he had provided for his runner beans! It was a happy partnership that resulted in yummy ice box melons.

Meanwhile, in hot-and-humid zone 9 Florida, a gardener gave Mini Love run of a 6- x 8-foot corn patch . . . only to find that this dainty vine pretty much kept to itself! Mini Love climbed the perimeter fences but left the corn stalks alone. This gardener attributed the unusually disease-free plants to the smaller leaves and more restrained growth, and was thrilled to have a watermelon that wasn’t a “garden bully”!

Mini Love’s fruit weighs about 7 to 9 pounds, contains few seeds, and is irresistibly sweet and juicy. One melon is just right for two people to share. You really, really don’t want to miss out on this one!

Pepper Aruba

2017 was a bumper year for new pepper varieties, but one has stood head and (mahogany) shoulders above the others: the delicious, early, oversized Cubanelle known as Aruba.

A gardener in Texas told us that Aruba is her new pepper of choice, thanks to its larger size, heavy production, and perfect blend of sweet and spicy flavor. “The best tasting pepper I’ve ever had,” she reports. “Delightful raw — you can literally eat it like an apple.”

Aruba is thin-walled, making it great for raw munching. The lime-green peppers turn mahogany-brown at full maturity, bursting with rich flavor and a strong spicy scent that helps drive away garden pests.

If you don’t have space for both sweet and hot peppers this year, consider Aruba as a happy medium! You won’t be disappointed.

As you plan your 2018 vegetable garden, consider these standouts from last season. We find that the best recommendations usually come from fellow gardeners. And folks have plenty of good info to share about these high performers!

About Sappho Charney

Sappho Charney is a garden writer living in Lubbock, Texas.

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