More from the 2013 Test Garden

Vegetables and Basil

January 27, 2014

Basil: 'Boxwood' basil

The flavor and aroma are similar to traditional sweet basil, but this compact, mounded herb has much smaller leaves. Grow it in pots or as a kitchen-garden edging.

Vegetable: 'Jacob’s Cattle' bean

A much-loved heirloom, ‘Jacob’s Cattle’ is a meaty, kidney-type dry bean that holds its own in hearty dishes. Bush habit.
High Mowing Organic Seeds


Vegetable: 'Provider' bean

This open-pollinated bush bean sets a super-productive, flavorful standard for green snap beans.
Territorial Seed Co.

Vegetable: 'On Deck' sweet corn

We were intrigued by Burpee’s description of a sweet corn so diminutive it could be grown in a container. Our plants grew taller than the catalog description—about 6 feet—and produced smallish ears of sweet, tender kernels. A supersweet hybrid variety.

Vegetable: 'Japanese Long' cucumber

The slender fruits of this popular heirloom are firm and crisp with a mild flavor. Harvest regularly to keep the vines producing.
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Vegetable: 'Karikachi' edamame

A Japanese soybean, ‘Karikachi’ has been bred for large, sweet seeds. When boiled briefly in salted water, edamame is a nutritious snack; it’s also good in soups, stir-fries, and other dishes. Edamame is grown in the same way as bush beans, but be prepared to harvest the crop all at once, because the pods ripen simultaneously.
John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds

Vegetable: 'Listada de Gandia' eggplant

‘Listada de Gandia’ is a stunner, and delicious to boot. The thin-skinned, streaked fruits are about 6 inches long and egg-shaped.
Tomato Growers Supply Co.

Vegetable: 'Bronze Arrowhead' lettuce

A favorite of test gardener Linda Crago, this beautiful oakleaf lettuce forms a tight rosette of bronze-tinged leaves. It has a great crunch and taste and holds for a long time in the garden before bolting.
Fedco Seeds

Vegetable: 'Clemson Spineless' okra

This open-pollinated variety has become a reliable standard since its introduction in 1939. Be prepared to pick okra daily during summer, because the flavor is best when the pods are harvested small—about 4 inches long.
Seed Savers Exchange

Vegetable: 'Big Red' sweet pepper

We were impressed by this bell pepper’s heavy fruit set and the heft of its juicy, thick-walled fruits. They were slow to mature to red here in Pennsylvania, however, and in our impatience we harvested many of them green.
Seeds of Change

Vegetable: 'Gemini' sweet pepper

This hybrid pepper matures to brilliant yellow and has a pleasantly sweet flavor. The fruits taper from broad shoulders.
Harris Seeds

Vegetable: 'Hot Portugal' hot pepper

A bit hotter than a jalapeño but nowhere near a habanero, this glossy red beauty has many culinary uses, such as grilling, frying, and pickling. At about 8 inches long, it’s a generous size for a hot pepper, too.
Fedco Seeds

Vegetable: 'Jimmy Nardello's' sweet pepper

Amazingly prolific and quick to mature, this thin-walled pepper has a sweet, fruity flavor. Enjoy it fresh or lightly sautéed in the traditional Italian style.
Territorial Seed Co.

Vegetable: 'Musquee de Provence' pumpkin

It’s hard to beat this French heirloom for flavor—just be sure your growing season is long enough, as it takes a good 4 months of warm weather to ripen fully.
Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply

Vegetable: 'Bloomsdale Long Standing' spinach

A fixture in seed catalogs since 1826, this spinach bears large rumpled leaves that are unbeatable for flavor, fresh or cooked.
Sustainable Seed Co.

Vegetable: ‘Golden Sunrise’ Swiss chard

A real beauty in the garden, ‘Golden Sunrise’ positively glows when the sun illuminates its yellow stalks. A spring sowing in the test garden lasted us all the way through fall frost, and the leaves didn’t become bitter, even in summer.
Nichols Garden Nursery

Vegetable: 'Hakurei' turnip

The surprise star of the 2013 trials: a turnip? The small roots mature almost as quickly as a radish—35 days—and are consistently sweet, crisp, and mild.
The Natural Gardening Co.

Vegetable: ‘Jaune Boule d’Or’ turnip

We were dazzled by white-rooted ‘Hakurei’ turnips—but this slower-maturing, pale yellow variety had its fans too. The large roots have a mild flavor and fine texture; the greens are tasty.
John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds

Vegetable: 'Dark Star' zucchini

This bush zucchini bears attractive dark-skinned fruits over a long harvest season. It was bred for growing in arid regions and is said to require less moisture than other varieties of zucchini.
Seeds of Change

Vegetable: 'Ortolana di Faenza' zucchini

Early to mature, this Italian heirloom has streaked white-and-green skin and a shape that’s chubbier than other zucchinis. Its taste is pleasantly mild.
Renee's Garden

Even MORE from the 2013 test gardens:

Tomatoes and Ground Cherries



Photography by Patrick Montero