Chill winter rules the slumbering garden. In many
parts of the country, the soil snuggles beneath thick
blankets of snow. Dull whites, grays, and browns mark the
triumph of the cold dominion. But by the warm glow of blazing fires, homes across
the land are preparing for spring, the
pages of seed catalogs filling imaginations with vernal
fantasies of color and fragrance.
New Seed Varieties for 1981
One of the real pleasures of gardening is planting some of
the “new and improved, best ever, grows taller (or smaller)
and bears over a longer period (or all at once)” seed varieties
that are featured in the seed catalogs each year. We have
been receiving advance notice of some of the newcomers. So here, for your planning and planting
pleasure, are the introductions for 1981!
Burpee is offering five new vegetable and fruit varieties
for the forthcoming season. Green Goliath Broccoli
matures over a three-week period, and sets side
shoots after the center heads have been harvested.
The StreamlinerHybrid Cucumber is a
compact plant that sets ten-inch fruit in unusual quantity
… thanks chiefly to the fact that all the blossoms are
female. (Of course, a plant or two of a pollinating variety
must be grown with the hybrid … but Burpee
includes such seeds in each packet.) Streamliner Is mosaic
and mildew resistant, and should be a real hit with
Honeydew melon fans will want to try the VenusHybrid Muskmelon, a short-season
(88-day) delicacy with bright green flesh that has all the
sweetness and aroma of a honeydew. And–because Venus
slips easily from the vine when it’s ready for
picking–there’s never any question as to whether the
succulent melons are ripe.
Finally, Burpee has come up with a worthy successor to its
famous Big Early tomato. Look for Early PickHybrid VF, which adds disease resistance and
higher yield to the outstanding flavor of Big Early. The
fruit of this husky indeterminate plant will begin to ripen
in about 62 days.
Our good friends to the north, at Vesey Seeds, are offering
four new varieties this year. GoldRush
BushBeans mature large clusters of long,
straight, golden pods in 54 days … and the treats will
remain on the plant, in prime condition, for a
very long time.
Raider Hybrid Cucumber is another gynoecious (or
all female) variety. The compact vines are tolerant to
mosaic and resistant to scab.
Harmony Hybrid is Vesey’s entry in the bicolor
corn contest. The closely packed ears mature in 73 days.
Big SetHybrid tomatoes are perfect for
the short Canadian season: They’re extra early, but produce
exceptionally large fruit!
Gurney’s got a new “girl” this year, and she looks like a
sure winner. Eight years ago the company set out to find a
tomato that had real old-time flavor … and the folks
from South Dakota have hit the jackpot! Their indeterminate
variety Gurney Girl combines a tangy, delicious
taste with high yield, great vigor, and an impressive
degree of disease resistance: The plants are unaffected by
tobacco mosaic, two types of Fusarium,
Verticillium, and nematodes. Too often, disease
resistance is won at the expense of flavor …
so Gurney Girl appears to be a real triumph!
Summer squash plants are frequently infected with mosaic
virus, and the result is often an unattractive green
mottling on the fruit. Harris Seeds is introducing
Multipik Hybrid, a beautiful buttery yellow squash
which doesn’t show the effects of mosaic mottling. It’s
early and prolific, too.
Harris is also offering SuperstarHybrid
Muskmelon, a big (6- to 8-pound), delicious,
productive fruit that holds its sweetness for up to a week
Park Seeds has developed a new multipurpose squash called
the KutaHybrid. Its young fruit can be eaten raw
or cooked, while the mature squash can be stuffed or baked.
Butterfruit is the new “supersweet” corn
introduction from Park. The kernels are twice as sweet as
ordinary corn, and the flavor lasts for days under
(Watermelon thumpers will want to try Park’s
Bushbaby, a compact and vigorous improvement
over previous bush melons.)
Epicure Seeds has combed the world’s seed catalogs again,
and come up with 26 new offerings for this year! You’ll
find pesto basil and red chicories from Italy, wild fennel
from Sicily, dwarf cauliflower from Australia, an intensely
aromatic parsley from Belgium, feldsalat (or corn
salad) from Germany, and a disease-resistant
Charentais-type melon from France!
Hard on the heels of Park’s Success With Seeds
comes yet another important gardening volume from
America’s largest family-owned seed company. It is called
Park’s Success With Herbs, a 192-page volume by
Connecticut herbalists Gertrude B. Foster and Rosemary F.
Louden … and–forgive the pun–it’s a dilly! This volume
furnishes information on how to grow, pick, use, and
preserve 100 different herbs; includes 350 color
photographs of both seedlings and mature plants; supplies recipes for many of the unusual varieties
listed; and cross-indexes both common and Latin names.
Most people realize that herbs can be dried for
off-season use, but Foster and Louden give detailed
instructions for freezing many of the savory
plants. Chervil, for example, loses its delicate flavor
when dried, but retains its taste if it’s spun in a
blender–with water–and then frozen in ice cube
trays. Basil, chives, coriander, dill, fennel, lovage,
mint, sorrel, lemon balm, and sweet cicely–according
to the authors–will all benefit from
For beginning herbalists, the book provides a plan
for a 9′ X 15′ garden that will hold more than 150 plants representing 25 species. You’ll find information on
interplanting herbs with other vegetable crops,
too, and a discussion of the role of the aromatic
greenery as an insect repellent. Park’s Success With
Herbs is worthy of a place on any gardener’s