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2021’s Best New Vegetable Introductions

By: Sherri Ribbey
Tired of the growing the same old varieties in your vegetable garden? Try these new veggies — they’re easy to grow, have great flavor and disease resistance.

Try growing some new vegetables!

From artichoke to zucchini, everyone has their favorite vegetable varieties that they’ve grown for years. But whether your an old pro or new to the garden game, it’s fun to try something new now and again. This group of new vegetables is well worth testing — they’re easy to grow, have good flavor and great disease resistance.

Brand-new plants can be a bit of a challenge to find at the garden center the first year, so make sure to shop early. I’ve listed mail-order sources where they’re available with each profile. Now let's take a look at some great new veggies for 2021. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find a new favorite!

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Sriracha pepper (Capsicum annuus)

This mild-flavored jalapeno will add a little kick to your own sriracha or any other recipes. It has a heat range of 2,300 to 2,500 scovilles. Upright plants steadily produce the large, 4- to 5-inch-long green-to-red peppers all summer. And they have a good shelf life so you don’t have to hurry to use your harvest.

Best feature Green to red peppers with just the right amount of heat Light Full sun Soil Well-drained Size 18 to 22 in. tall, 18 to 20 in. wide Introducer Burpee® Home Gardens Source Local garden centers

‘Hestia’ dwarf runner bean (Phaseolus coccineus)

When space is at a premium, this pint-sized runner bean is a great solution for growing in a pot on your deck, balcony or patio. The red and white flowers are edible with a mild nutty flavor. Leave some to form pods that, once you open and dry the beans, are perfect for soups or chili.

Best feature It has a compact habit so you can grow beans anywhere Light Full sun Soil Moist, well-drained Size 12 to 14 in. tall and wide Introducer & SourceRenee’s Garden, 888-880-7228 (available as seeds)

Merlin stalk celery (Apium graveolens)

Merlin is the variety for first-time celery growers. Vigorous plants produce 12-inch-tall stalks early in the season and are tasty fresh from the garden or cooked in your favorite soup or stew. For the best-tasting stalks, water and fertilize regularly.

Best feature Vigorous plants that are easy to grow Light Full sun to part shade Soil Moist, well-drained Size 12 in. tall Introducer & SourceRenee’s Garden, 888-880-7228 (available as seeds)

Tasti-Wee® tomato (Solanum lycopersicum)

If eating your vegetables is good for you then eating this new cherry tomato has to be even better — it has up to 40 percent more lycopene than other cherry tomatoes. You can count on lots of the small, crack-resistant fruit all summer on plants that are resistant to fusarium wilt 1-3, tomato spotted virus and verticillium wilt.

Best feature Crack-resistant fruits with higher lycopene levels than other varieties Light Full sun Soil Well-drained Size 65 to 72 in. tall, 20 to 24 in. wide Introducer Burpee® Home Gardens  Source Local garden centers

Sweet Thang cabbage (Brassica olerace)

This isn't your typical cabbage. Sweet Thang is a tronchuda cabbage with thick dark green leaves and white veins. These types don't produce a head but grow in a loose form kind of like kale or collards — harvest what you need or cut the whole bunch. It has a milder, sweeter taste than kale, too. Sweet Thang is a great cool season crop but is also heat tolerant so you can harvest through the season. Use leaves for soups or stuff with your favorite ingredients. Use the ribs like Swiss chard.

Best feature A mild flavor and you can harvest for most of the season  Light Full sun Soil Well-drained Size 12 to 16 in. tall, 10 to 12 in. wide Introducer Burpee® Home Gardens  Source Local garden centers

Autumn Frost winter squash (Cucurbita moschata)

This petite winter squash is 5 to 7 inches long and 5 to 6 inches wide and weighs in at around 4 pounds. The vines are good producers with lots of fruit that can last up to 4 months in storage. Autumn Frost has a similar taste to butternut squash and you can bake, roast or stuff it, too. It takes about 100 days from direct sowing seed to harvest this good-looking squash.

Best feature Lots of long-storing fruit that tastes great  Light Full sun Soil Well-drained Size 8 to 12 in. tall, 96 to 132 in. wide Introducer Pan American Seed®SourceTerritorial Seed Company, 800-626-0866 (available as seeds)

Siam tomato (Solanum lycopersicum)

This tiny tomato is perfect for growing in a container that sits on your patio or even a sunny windowsill indoors. This variety has been bred to grow in low-light conditions so won't need a special grow light. Like most determinate tomatoes, Siam stays compact and produces all its tasty fruit over a few weeks then it's done. Regular watering helps ensure healthy plants and lots of fruit.

Best feature Great tasting fruit on super compact plants Light Full sun to part shade Soil Moist, well-drained Size 7 to 9 in. tall, 10 to 12 in. wide Introducer Pan American Seed Source Totally Tomatoes, 800-345-5977 (available as seeds)

Abigail tomato (Solanum lycopersicum)

High-yielding Abigail is a pink tomato with a rich flavor and meaty texture. Fruits range from 10 to 16 ounces with little cracking. Add to that great disease resistance on indeterminate plants, and you have an heirloom in the making.

Best feature Modern disease resistance and heirloom quality fruit Light Full sun Soil Well-drained Size Indeterminate Introducer & Source Johnny’s Selected Seeds, 877-564-6697 (available as seeds)

Sriracha pepper (Capsicum annuus)

This mild-flavored jalapeno will add a little kick to your own sriracha or any other recipes. It has a heat range of 2,300 to 2,500 scovilles. Upright plants steadily produce the large, 4- to 5-inch-long green-to-red peppers all summer. And they have a good shelf life so you don’t have to hurry to use your harvest.

Best feature Green to red peppers with just the right amount of heat Light Full sun Soil Well-drained Size 18 to 22 in. tall, 18 to 20 in. wide Introducer Burpee® Home Gardens Source Local garden centers

Sweet Thang cabbage (Brassica olerace)

This isn't your typical cabbage. Sweet Thang is a tronchuda cabbage with thick dark green leaves and white veins. These types don't produce a head but grow in a loose form kind of like kale or collards — harvest what you need or cut the whole bunch. It has a milder, sweeter taste than kale, too. Sweet Thang is a great cool season crop but is also heat tolerant so you can harvest through the season. Use leaves for soups or stuff with your favorite ingredients. Use the ribs like Swiss chard.

Best feature A mild flavor and you can harvest for most of the season  Light Full sun Soil Well-drained Size 12 to 16 in. tall, 10 to 12 in. wide Introducer Burpee® Home Gardens  Source Local garden centers

‘Hestia’ dwarf runner bean (Phaseolus coccineus)

When space is at a premium, this pint-sized runner bean is a great solution for growing in a pot on your deck, balcony or patio. The red and white flowers are edible with a mild nutty flavor. Leave some to form pods that, once you open and dry the beans, are perfect for soups or chili.

Best feature It has a compact habit so you can grow beans anywhere Light Full sun Soil Moist, well-drained Size 12 to 14 in. tall and wide Introducer & SourceRenee’s Garden, 888-880-7228 (available as seeds)

Autumn Frost winter squash (Cucurbita moschata)

This petite winter squash is 5 to 7 inches long and 5 to 6 inches wide and weighs in at around 4 pounds. The vines are good producers with lots of fruit that can last up to 4 months in storage. Autumn Frost has a similar taste to butternut squash and you can bake, roast or stuff it, too. It takes about 100 days from direct sowing seed to harvest this good-looking squash.

Best feature Lots of long-storing fruit that tastes great  Light Full sun Soil Well-drained Size 8 to 12 in. tall, 96 to 132 in. wide Introducer Pan American Seed®SourceTerritorial Seed Company, 800-626-0866 (available as seeds)

Merlin stalk celery (Apium graveolens)

Merlin is the variety for first-time celery growers. Vigorous plants produce 12-inch-tall stalks early in the season and are tasty fresh from the garden or cooked in your favorite soup or stew. For the best-tasting stalks, water and fertilize regularly.

Best feature Vigorous plants that are easy to grow Light Full sun to part shade Soil Moist, well-drained Size 12 in. tall Introducer & SourceRenee’s Garden, 888-880-7228 (available as seeds)

Siam tomato (Solanum lycopersicum)

This tiny tomato is perfect for growing in a container that sits on your patio or even a sunny windowsill indoors. This variety has been bred to grow in low-light conditions so won't need a special grow light. Like most determinate tomatoes, Siam stays compact and produces all its tasty fruit over a few weeks then it's done. Regular watering helps ensure healthy plants and lots of fruit.

Best feature Great tasting fruit on super compact plants Light Full sun to part shade Soil Moist, well-drained Size 7 to 9 in. tall, 10 to 12 in. wide Introducer Pan American Seed Source Totally Tomatoes, 800-345-5977 (available as seeds)

Tasti-Wee® tomato (Solanum lycopersicum)

If eating your vegetables is good for you then eating this new cherry tomato has to be even better — it has up to 40 percent more lycopene than other cherry tomatoes. You can count on lots of the small, crack-resistant fruit all summer on plants that are resistant to fusarium wilt 1-3, tomato spotted virus and verticillium wilt.

Best feature Crack-resistant fruits with higher lycopene levels than other varieties Light Full sun Soil Well-drained Size 65 to 72 in. tall, 20 to 24 in. wide Introducer Burpee® Home Gardens  Source Local garden centers

Abigail tomato (Solanum lycopersicum)

High-yielding Abigail is a pink tomato with a rich flavor and meaty texture. Fruits range from 10 to 16 ounces with little cracking. Add to that great disease resistance on indeterminate plants, and you have an heirloom in the making.

Best feature Modern disease resistance and heirloom quality fruit Light Full sun Soil Well-drained Size Indeterminate Introducer & Source Johnny’s Selected Seeds, 877-564-6697 (available as seeds)

Published: Feb. 17, 2021
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