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Plant a rainbow: Colorful new vegetables

Golden Goose summer squash is new for 2019. (Photo: Burpee)
Edible ornamental examples for 2019 from seed giant Burpee

Eat a rainbow? These new vegetables will add color to any meal or garden bed.

Examples fill new seed catalogs and websites including Burpee Seeds’ 2019 introductions. These recent hybrids look spectacular growing in the garden as well as at harvest.

Following the edible ornamental trend, Burpee released several new vegetables with eye-catching appeal.

Burpee chairman George Ball raves about some of these new vegetables in terms usually associated with sports cars or formal gowns: “Stunning,” “beautiful,” “gorgeous.”

“My favorite is Golden Goose hybrid summer squash,” Ball said of the 2019 introductions. “It’s absolutely out of this world. It looks so beautiful; the color is just stunning. But it’s also very, very productive and disease resistant. It produces these very shapely crookneck squash all summer long. And they’re delicious, too.”

Honeycomb tomatoes  are Burpee's only new tomato for 2019. (Photo: Burpee)
With limited space, home gardeners are more likely to grow attractive vegetables, herbs, fruit and berries that can be added to their landscapes or grown in patio containers. These edibles become part of their home’s ornamental landscape; to earn those spots, they’ve got to look good and taste great.

Ball shared how Burpee, the nation’s largest supplier of home garden seeds, is following that trend with some colorful new introductions. Topping that list is Honeycomb orange cherry tomatoes.

“We have only one new tomato this season, but it’s a killer,” Ball said. “Honeycomb is this beautiful golden orange and it tastes a little bit like honey, too. It’s richly flavored; sweet but not cloying. It has lovely vine quality; almost sensuous vines with a creeping effect that weave together. It’s a pretty plant.”

Heart-shape Slovana peppers ripen to several shades of yellow.

Slovana  peppers ripen to several shades of yellow. (Photo: Burpee)
“They go from beautiful pale yellow to neon gold; it’s a marble or jewel-like color,” Ball said. “They’re a wonderful, wonderful Slavic pepper. They were a big hit in Europe. … They’re delicious at all stages with a little bit of kick.”

Burgundy Delight red leaf lettuce looks as nice in the ornamental landscape as it does in a salad.

“It has very dark red leaves, a deep red to bronze that mellows to burgundy,” Ball said. “In the garden, it looks like it’s glowing. It’s very decorative in the spring and autumn garden. It’s also quite delicious.”

Another vegetable that seems to sparkle: Green Gems Brussels sprouts.

“Green Gems; it’s just what it says,” Ball said. “It’s 36 inches tall and loaded with these gourmet quality sprouts. The whole plant is just glowing green; it’s a beautiful thing.”

White vegetables always draw the eye. While developing color, plant breeders also strive for pearl-like whites.

“White Corona is the whitest cauliflower I’ve ever seen,” Ball said. “It looks like dazzling white snow. It’s also the fastest growing cultivar I’ve ever seen; it’s ready in 33 days.”

White Knight eggplant makes a stunning impact in the garden. (Photo: Burpee)
With long, thin fruit, White Knight eggplant makes a handsome container plant. These prolific (but compact) bushes earn a second look.

“It is an absolutely opulent white color,” Ball said of these eggplant. “It shimmers on the plant. Its culinary virtues are as great as its visual (aspects). (These eggplant are) dense and creamy, and don’t get soggy.”

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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 26:

Sacramento can expect another inch of rain from this latest storm. Leave the sprinklers off at least another week. Temps will dip down into the low 30s early in the week, so avoid planting tender seedlings (such as tomatoes). Concentrate on these tasks before or after this week’s rain:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Knock off aphids with a strong blast of water or some bug soap as soon as they appear.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to help corral blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees, which are now in bloom and setting fruit.

To prevent sunburn and borer problems on young trees, paint the exposed portion of the trunk with diluted white latex (water-based) interior paint. Dilute the paint with an equal amount of cold water before application.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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