May 9, 2018
Veggie Season is Upon Us By Jasmina Dolce

While it took its sweet time making its appearance, spring is in full swing and summer is just around the corner. For me, that means finally getting my vegetable garden ready for another hopefully fruitful season.

I walked through my local garden center last weekend, which seemed like the first warm weekend we’ve had. The parking lot was full, and the plant selection was impressive.

Since the weather here in Chicagoland can be quite unpredictable, many gardeners can be hesitant to plant anything before Mother’s Day. We never know when that last spring frost will hit us.

I still have another weekend to prep my veggie garden, which requires quite a bit of cleaning up what I left behind last year. And I’ll be able to plant my favorites: lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, basil, cilantro, cauliflower and broccolini. And I know I’m not alone. Aside from all the home gardens, there are a ton of community gardens in the area where local residents can grow their own vegetables and herbs.

It seems home-grown veggies, herbs and fruits are here to stay. Are you taking advantage of this lasting trend? If so, what types of plants are you growing? Which ones seem to be the most in demand?

While at the 2018 California Spring Trials, we got to see tons of new edible varieties being introduced. If you grow edibles or plan to for next season, here are some new varieties worth considering.

Basil ‘Amazel Basil’
Proven Winners

Part of the brand new Proven Harvest collection, ‘Amazel Basil’ comes from University of Florida breeding. It is great tasting and downy mildew resistant. Leaves stay large, and the plant is late to flower.

Sweet banana pepper ‘Lola’

‘Lola’ is an easy-to-grow plant that boasts a bright shiny color that changes gradually. Fruits mature early, in about 65 to 70 days. Peppers measure up to 8 inches long, and are crunchy with firm, thick walls.

Thymus ‘Cascata Lemonade’
Hishtil Nurseries

‘Cascata Lemonade’ is a great component for smaller gardens and would make a great hanging basket. And like the name suggests, it features a delightful lemon flavor.

Tomato ‘Summerlast’

Perfect for patio containers, this medium-sized tomato is bred for longevity. It maintains good-looking foliage throughout the season and is resistant to late blight and TMV.

Strawberry Berried Treasure
Proven Winners

This everbearing strawberry plant presents tasty fruits and semi-double flowers in either red or pink. It is best used in containers, where the fruit can be shown off easily and picked.

Pepper ‘Snackabelle Red’
PanAmerican Seed

‘Snackabelle Red’ is a mini bell pepper that transitions from green to deep red. It can be used in containers or in the garden. Peppers are thick walled and have a rich, sweet flavor.

— Jasmina

Jasmina Dolce

Jasmina Dolce is managing editor of GPN magazine. She can be reached at [email protected]

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