Glass gem corn

Right about now, gardeners are faced with a dizzying array of choices as they peruse the seed catalogues flooding their mailboxes. If you're looking for something new, here are a few ideas for you.

An easy to grow, beautiful corn (for popping) called Glass Gem is widely available and is reputed to be too pretty to eat owing to its multicolored kernels. Even more interesting is its history: it was  bred by the late Carl Barnes, a Oklahoman of Cherokee descent who dedicated his life to reclaiming and preserving seed of traditional Native American corns of which this is one.

If you don't have room for such a large plant, there are many smaller vegetables for you to try. A mini butternut squash known as 'Honeynut' is a "personal sized" squash which when ripe measures barely 5 inches and weighs about 1 pound.

Strawberry spinach

What would a summer garden be without a tomato plant? A new entry this year is Patio Choice Yellow F1. An All American Selection (AAS) winner, it's a compact tomato developed specifically for small spaces and container gardens, as well as hanging baskets. It produces very large yields of bright yellow cherry tomatoes on short vines that grow only 18 inches tall. The compact plants are perfect for urban or small space food gardeners and delivers mild flavored cherry tomatoes, numbering more than 100 fruits

Zinnia Profusion Red

Plant a colorful addition to your garden: Strawberry Spinach, which isn't really a spinach. Dating back to 1600 in Europe, this old-fashioned easy to grow plant produces greens which are picked and eaten like spinach. You'll also get flavorful red berries, ergo its name, plus you can grow it in summer heat without the leaves turning bitter. All in all, a real winner.

Flower lovers can grow a new Profusion Zinnia, Profusion Red, another AAS winner. It has a lot going for it: early and continuous blooms all season long, an easy to grow compact form, and disease resistance. Pollinators love it and the color is a vibrant, true red which doesn’t fade in summer’s intense rays.

So many seeds, so little space!

by Lorraine Ballato, Garden writer and author