New Plants in 2018

Tomato Midnight Snack at Nest for All Seasons Stonecrest Potager

I try to grow new plants each year to learn and experiment and to see the newest flowers and taste the newest flavors available.
Some of the plants I grow are very old, (HEIRLOOMS!) just new to me. Here is the lineup from 2018:


Shall we start with tomatoes??  I always try to grow at least a few new tomatoes and this year PanAm Seed sent a trial plant of Tomato MidnightSnack. It is a very beautiful tomato with an overlay of glossy black-purple like a cap on top of a deep red. The taste is mild, not strong or particularly sweet and the size is perfect for snacking or cutting in halves for salads.

I also grew a couple newer varieties of yellow cherry tomatoes this year, but I won't mention them because they were absolutely put to shame by the classic Sungold which outproduced every other tomato in the garden.

 A fun new plant from seed this year was Thai Roselle from Baker Creek Seeds. This is a heirloom, part of the hibiscus family and blooms with a cream blossom, then producing red calyces that can be used to make jams, teas, etc. My plants are in pots and have not produced blooms yet, but I plan to overwinter them under glass and see if they will produce next spring/summer. I also plan to try them out in the vegetable garden next year for more vigorous growth. The Penn State Master Gardener's Exhibition Garden had Roselle blooming this year in early August, so I know it can be done here!


I trialed a few plants from Darwin Perennials this year and gave them a very tough trial indeed. They were placed in the Grasses Bed where poison ivy has been known to pop up, yellow jackets sometimes nest and only the fittest survive. I was pleased that all of the trial plants did well this year and I look forward to adding in more.

The first is Armeria Dreameria Sweet Dreams - a Sea Pink or Sea Thrift - that is supposed to bloom frost-to-frost and maintains a tidy habit. I planted out three in a cluster and all have survived well, even with ivy trying to take over:


This summer has been harsh with way too much rain, then super hot stretches. I have high hopes for these troopers to bloom like crazy next year. One trial plant that DID bloom all season in the Grasses Bed were these Salvia Rose Marvel.



They were planted near amsonias and I hope they will play off of each other as the plants mature:



You must ignore all of the pumpkin and squash vines throughout these photos of the Grasses Bed.  I use them to cover ground while the perennials in this bed are filling out. In a few years, I hope all of the grasses, perennials and shrubs fill out enough to make the soil invisible.


In the photo below, you will see the large established ornamental grasses, a young Karl Foerster to the left, a heather in the foreground and smack in the middle is a new miscanthus from PanAm Seed. It is small now, but 'Bandwidth' is supposed to grow to 30-36" with a width around 30-36" as well. The striping on the bands will contrast nicely with the new summer growth of the heathers in the beds and bring some light to this shadier corner of the bed. All three trial plants established quickly and have met the harsh summer with aplomb.


A larger view:

To see how VERY FAR this Grasses Bed has come - visit these previous posts on its rehabilitation:

Back in the vegetable garden, I tried the aptly named "Popcorn Plant" (Cassia) this year which has taken off and does indeed smell like burnt popcorn:


I grew ONE solitary cucumber plant this year - a pickling cucumber - from the nursery down the street and we get 2-3 almost every day. We usually grow the larger cukes, but these smaller ones have been great! I have put several new varieties of cucumber on my wishlist for next year as the kids have taken to them:


New to us this year is the Habanero Pepper Primero Red as well as the Sweet Pepper Snackabelle Red. Snackabelle is adorable and Primero is HOT (but only 1/3 the heat of the traditional Habanero).



They turn red when ripe and are mildly spicy -- similar to a jalapeno.
That is all the newbies for now, but I am already planning out seed lists for 2019!

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