Happy New Year from the Good Seed garden blog! Some people hit a slump after the decorations are packed away, but if you’re a gardener, you have good things to look forward to (and we’re all about good things here at the Good Seed). As the old year closes, we’re getting excited about the new plants growers are announcing. (Image: Shutterstock/DenisNata)
Here’s a sneak peek at some of the new offerings for 2013. Arrival dates and availability in stores will vary, so watch for announcements or visit your local Home Depot when the weather warms up (or join The Home Depot Garden Club, if you haven’t already, to get emails and offers delivered automatically to your Inbox).
While we’re waiting, why not get organized for the new year, and make your own garden journal? A personal journal is great for storing all your growing notes in one place, and can help you remember when your roses began to bloom–or when the first Japanese beetles showed up.
Fabulous Flowers from Proven Winners
One of the splashiest, most colorful flowers due to hit stores in 2013 is Superbells ‘Pomegranate Punch’, a calibrachoa from Proven Winners. At first glance, you might mistake the small, frilly blossoms for baby petunias, but they’re not. (They are relatives, though, in the Solanaceae family.)
Like the other Proven Winners calibrachoas we’ll mention here, ‘Pomegranate Punch’ is hardy to zones 9 a and b, 10 a and b, and 11 a and b. Calibrachoas are annuals, so plant them in the spring, after all danger of frost has passed, if you live where the winters are cold.
(Not sure when it’s safe to plant in your area? Check the National Climatic Data Center map to find the average first and last frost/freeze dates in your region. The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map will also help you choose plants with the right hardiness rating for your area. Another great way to know when it’s safe to plant is to talk to gardeners who live nearby. You can benefit from the experience of neighbors who’ve been gardening long enough to know when your region is likely to get a late cold snap, or when the ground will warm up faster than the maps indicate.)
Superbells ‘Pomegranate Punch’ is another eye-catching calibrachoa, with deep, rose-red blooms and dark-red centers, and it’s a Home Depot exclusive for 2013. The plants have a trailing habit, so use them in hanging baskets, window boxes, and other containers. They need good drainage and full sun. ‘Pomegranate Punch’ doesn’t require deadheading (that is, pinching off the dead flowers to keep the blooms coming), but you can trim it occasionally to keep it full and bushy.
Superbena ‘Royale Red‘ is also a Home Depot exclusive for 2013. This verbena hybrid, hardy in zones 8a to 11b, is also a great spiller/trailer for containers and baskets. It’s part of the Superbena series of plants that are bred to be exceptionally vigorous, heat tolerant, and mildew resistant. It’s an annual, so wait until there’s no chance of frost before planting it.
The brilliant flowers on ‘Royale Red’ don’t need deadheading, although you can trim the plants, if you wish, to encourage more branches to produce even more blooms. This variety is drought and heat tolerant and doesn’t need especially rich soil; an application of slow release fertilizer or some compost will keep it happy. If you enjoy watching wildlife, you’ll find it’s a virtual butterfly magnet.
Superbells ‘Strawberry Punch,’ like ‘Pomegranate Punch,’ is another easy-to-grow calibrachoa that’s covered in hundreds of tiny, petunia-like blossoms. The flowers are two-toned, with rich pink petals and deep, strawberry-colored centers. Hummingbirds love them, and the sun-loving plants are very heat tolerant.
‘Strawberry Punch’ has a mounding, trailing growth habit, so it’s another good choice for pots, hanging baskets, and window boxes. You can also simply let it spread through and around other plants in your garden beds, but make sure it has good drainage. Water only when the top of the soil feels dry, and give the plants full sun to keep the flowers coming. The stems trail or spill up to 36″ as plants grow 8-12″ tall.
Be sure to come back and visit The Good Seed again, when we’ll introduce even more beautiful flowers. Wait till you see ‘Velvet Skies,’ a Proven Winners combination of three pretty annuals in shades of royal purple, lavender, and silvery-lavender–but we’ve said too much. You’ll just have to come back and visit us, so watch your Home Depot Garden Club emails. Images: Proven Winners
Flavorful Fruits And Vegetables From Bonnie Plants
As much as we love flowers here at the Good Seed, we also love growing fresh, nutritious foods in our gardens. Check out these terrific fruits and vegetables coming from Bonnie Plants in 2013:
Tomatoes can’t withstand a frost or freeze, so wait until after all danger of frost is over before planting them. If you need to hold your plants indoors for a while, keep them near a sunny window until the temperatures are reliably warm. Protect any transplants you’ve already moved into the garden with row covers if frost threatens.
Gardeners always compete to see who can harvest the first ripe tomato each year. Bonnie Plants’ ‘New Girl’ should give you a jump start on your neighbors. “If you’re already a fan of the ‘Early Girl’ variety, you’ll like this one,” says Bonnie Plants spokeswoman Lois Chaplin. “Since it’s ready to harvest in 58 to 65 days, it’s a good choice for short-season gardeners in the northeast.”
‘New Girl’ plants are indeterminate, reaching 5 – 6′ tall and 18 – 30″ wide. (Indeterminate means the plants keep growing and setting fruit throughout the season. Determinate types tend to be bushier and don’t grow much bigger after initially setting fruit.) It is also resistant to fusarium wilt.
‘New Girl’ tomatoes are good for eating fresh in salads and sandwiches, and add a rich, tomato-y flavor to sauces, soups, and other dishes. Gardeners with a long growing season (that is, where the first fall frost comes late in the year) can plant their tomatoes into early summer. Image of New Girl tomatoes: Johnny’s Selected Seeds
‘Tumbling Junior Yellow’
Bonnie Plants recommends growing ‘Tumbling Junior Yellow‘ right outside your door, or in a handy pot, window box, or hanging basket, for quick-and-easy snacking. The determinate plants grow 6-12″ tall and 20″ wide, and flow over the sides of a container, rather than straight up, so they’re perfect for small spaces. The sunny-yellow tomatoes are bite-sized, with a tart-sweet flavor, and they’re ready to harvest in about 95 days from planting. Like other tomatoes, ‘Tumbling Junior Yellow’ can’t withstand a freeze or frost, so plant after the last frost, and when the weather is reliably warm. Eat the fruits out of hand, in salads, or skewer them with other veggies for shish-kabob.
Grow ‘Cherry Falls’ after the last frost in your area, and you’ll have a virtual waterfall of bright red tomatoes to harvest. The plants, which were developed for hanging basket production, have a rambling, cascading growth habit and also perform well in containers and window boxes.
‘Cherry Falls’ plants typically reach no more than 10″ tall and 24-36″ wide. The fruits, which are ready to harvest in approximately 68 to 72 days, strike a nice balance between tart and sweet. Toss them into salads or enjoy them as healthful, low-calorie snacks.
‘Lacinato’ kale, an heirloom from 18th century Italy, is new to the Bonnie Plants line-up.
Chaplin says chefs love it and use it to make kale chips, a crispy, baked snack made with olive oil and sea salt.
“It’s also beautiful in the landscape, or in containers, when grown as an annual,” Chaplin adds. “Try combining it with other cool season flowers like pansies. It really brings another dimension to your garden.”
‘Lacinato’ is ready to harvest when the leaves reach 6 to 18” long. (That is, the baby leaves are ready to pick in about 30 days from sowing. For bigger leaves, plan on 60 -62 days.) The dark blue-green to near-black leaves have a more delicate flavor than curly kale. This cold-hardy plant becomes sweeter after the leaves are touched by frost. Northern gardeners can even leave the plants in the snow and keep harvesting.
Kale is easy to grow in full sun or part shade, and because it’s packed with vitamins K, A, and C, it’s good for you. Grow it as a cool season crop.
Images of ‘Cherry Falls’ and ‘Lacinato”: Bonnie Plants
‘Sarah’s Choice’ cantaloupes are new to Bonnie’s for 2013. “They have an incredibly sweet taste,” says Chaplin, and a fragrant, juicy orange flesh. Grow these plants, also called muskmelons, in full sun, and give the very productive vines plenty of water and lots of room to run. The melons mature in about 76 days and weigh about 3 pounds. Gardeners in the far South can plant again in mid-summer for a fall crop. Wait until the weather is reliably warm, or about 65 degrees F, before planting. Cantaloupes are hardy to zones 4-11. Image: Johnny’s Selected Seeds
‘Eversweet’ is an everbearing strawberry that will produce large, sweet, fresh berries for your salads and snacks, not to mention those strawberry pies, throughout the growing season. Gardeners in warm regions: this variety will be great for you. ‘Eversweet’ tolerates temperatures up to 100 degrees F without a loss of berry quality. If you live in gardening zones 7 or 8, strawberries should be planted in the fall. Those in other zones can plant in early spring. ‘Eversweet’ plants are perennials in zones 5 through 9. The berries are ready to pick about 30 to 35 days after flowering. Grow them in garden beds, strawberry jars, hanging baskets, flower pouches, and other containers.