Edibles at the Trials

April 23, 2013 - 11:00

I can't believe it's already been two weeks since the California Spring Trials came to an end. I'm still shuffling through thousands of photos and pages of notes. If you received my newsletters from the road, you had the chance to see some of the new varieties introduced at the trials. And you can see even more on our Spring Trials gallery page on www.californiaspringtrials.com.

But today, I'd like to focus on a trend that's surely not new but still a big focus at the Spring Trials: Edibles. Although many home gardeners have been growing their own veggies for a while now, the trend is certainly not fading anytime soon. And exhibiting breeders at the Spring Trials are continuing to expand on their edibles programs. Here's a few new varieties, merchandising ideas and overall developments we picked up along the trial stops.

Sakata's Home Grown division is really focusing on the various types of edible gardeners — from the casual urban gardener to the chef. They showed how home gardeners can make use of their patio space with ‘salad bowl’ gardens. And they also had on display the complete garden in a barrel for urban gardeners with limited space. It has flowers, veggies and herbs!

Plug Connection introduced several new grafted tomato varieties, many of them in unique color combinations. This one is ‘Indigo Rose’, which boasts stunning clusters of 2- to 3-inch purple-black fruits that turn red when ripe. It’s an excellent slicer for sandwiches, salsa and salads.

According to the folks at Pacific Plug & Liner, their ‘Long Foot’ basil tree is in high demand among garden centers large and small. We loved the idea of using a fork to display the tag.

At Ball's stop, we were introduced to ‘Homeslice’, a new 6-ounce slicer by PanAmerican Seed. It’s an early producer, is well branched and has great flavor! We also saw a great hanging basket idea: Herbs on top, tomatoes on the bottom. PanAm’s upside tomato plant, ‘Topsy Tom’, is shown here with a mini herb garden in the top part of the container. Just add lettuce!

Floranova’s edibles arm, Vegetalis, is concentrating much of its breeding efforts on producing tomatoes with a much higher sugar content. The problem with many of the smaller, basket types is that the fruits are low in sugar due to the amount of foliage. However, this new variety ‘Apricot Dream’ has high sugar content and can still be used on the patio as a vertical component.

When it comes to edibles, Syngenta has predominantly been known for supplying genetics to farmers, not the home garden market. But this year, they emphasized that the company is not so much breeding new vegetables for the home market but rather taking the best-performing commercial varieties and bringing them into the home segment.

Are edibles part of your production? What types of varieties do you grow? What trends have you seen in the edibles market? Shoot me an e-mail at jdolce@sgcmail.com. I'd love to hear from you!

— Jasmina

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