5 Trendy Vegetables to grow this year.





Every year I devote a portion of my garden to weird stuff.  You know … warty tomatoes, tiny cucumbers, those astronaut pens that write even when they’re upside down.

I also try to keep up with the vegetable trends when I’m planning my garden.  And yes, there are vegetable trends.  Kale became such a trend just a couple of years ago that nurseries sold out of their seedlings before most people had even started planting.  Kale, kale, kale.  Whenever you turned around someone was planting, cooking, or talking about kale.

Now, there’s a bit of a kale backlash.  People are getting sick of kale.  They’re looking for something new, different and more palatable. Before you know it kale will have to change it’s hair, start modelling underpants and  have its own roast on Comedy Central in an attempt to get people to like it again.



So what’s going to replace kale?  What new things are people going to be grappling for this year?

According to vegetable expert Linda Crago of Tree & Twig Heirloom Vegetable Farm  it’s vegetable plants that cater to people living on small lots or in apartments, Artisan tomatoes, and new greens to replace that kale you never really liked anyway.  (as a side note here, I genuinely like the Dinosaur kale from  Cubit’s that I grow every year because it’s more tender and less bitter than other kales)

So let’s take a look at some of the varieties that Linda says will be trending this year and why.

Baby Vegetables
Just because you want to grow your own vegetables doesn’t mean you’re a farmer or live on anything close to the size of a farm for that matter. A lot of people in apartments or with small lots get cheated out of growing their own food because they just don’t have enough space. Enter baby vegetables. These are small but prolific varieties of their regular-sized counterparts that are bred to be compact enough to grow in pots.



Mascotte Green Beans – These French filet green bean plants grow to be only about 18” high but produce mounds of crisp green beans.

Tom Thumb Peas – These peas grow on a small-leaf bush-pea plant that does well in window boxes or containers.

Blue Jade Corn –Blue Jade is a variety of small-eared corn that’s tiny enough to grow in pots. Seriously! Each plant grows only about 3’ high and produces a few small ears of sweet blue-colored corn.

Artisan Tomatoes
Heirloom tomatoes have seen a huge resurgence because of their interesting colors, shapes and great taste. Also, heirloom tomatoes are loved by gardeners because you can save the seeds from these open-pollinated plants and be guaranteed an exact replica the next year.



Out of the heirloom resurgence comes the artisan tomato. I had my first one last fall and it was pretty extraordinary. I didn’t even know it was an artisan tomato. I just knew it burst in my mouth with more sweetness and flavor than any other tomato I’ve tried. Plus it looked really cool. Ironically, it looked kind of acid washed.

Lucky Tiger – Small plum-shaped tomatoes with striping; very sweet.

Purple Bumblebee – Round and slightly larger than a regular cherry tomato at 1.5” across; purple with green metallic-looking stripes; great flavor.

Indigo Rose – The size is in between a cherry tomato and a full-sized tomato; grows blue/purple wherever the sun hits it. The color indicates that this tomato has especially high levels of antioxidant-laden anthocyanins.

This is the category that kale belongs to. Leafy greens are so versatile that they never go out of style. With kale starting to see a bit of a backlash because people are getting bored with it, these are two of the greens that will be trending this year.



Kalettes – A cross between kale and Brussels sprouts, they look like a Brussels sprout but with tiny kale-shaped leaves.

Napa (Chinese) Cabbage – Napa cabbage has been around for ages, and if chefs have their way, it may overtake kale on menus. It’s the most popular ingredient for kimchi, which is part of the fermentation movement that’s quickly gaining cult status.

Not sure how to start seeds? Take my Seed Starting Workshop! Happy planting.



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  1. Lynn says:

    Have question for you about your Kale … Do you have any problems with white butterflies attacking your kale ??? Do not know the name of the pest but they come just as my kale begins to get ready to pick .

    • backyardfeast says:

      Hi Lynn,
      You’re probably seeing cabbage moths; google them to get an idea of their pest level for where you are. They come for all brassicas, lay their eggs and hatch our fat green grubs that will eat your kales, cabbages, etc. They can either be a minor annoyance or a major pest; where they are an issue, people usually put some floating row cover over the plants when they plant them to keep the bugs out. Good luck!

  2. Scott says:

    I haven’t read this yet but please stop. I have enough seeds already! I had enough last time you had a seed post, and I bought everything but the beans and beets you mentioned.

    I spent $50 on tomato & pepper seeds that went to the edge of space on a weather balloon. I know I need help!

    • Karen says:

      I’m gonna be honest with you here Scott. I think you don’t need any help at all. The way I see it you’re doing everything exactly right, lol. ~ karen!

  3. Gale Green says:

    The best thing I’ve read on gardening (except your site, of course!) is a book by Jo Robinson called “Eating on The Wild Side”. Not only does she talk about the family trees (so to speak) of each veggie, but then tells really interesting things about the ways to use/cook them to get the most nutrition out of them. Then, she tells which ones to plant to get the highest nutritive value of the plants!! Her book is very fascinating, factual, and full of really cool stuff! You would find a LOT there to use here in your bloggggg. ;-).

    • Karen says:

      I’ll add it to my list Gale, thanks! It actually sounds like exactly the kind of book I’d like. ๐Ÿ™‚ ~ karen!

  4. Gale Green says:

    P.S.– Oh yeah, the whole second part of the book is about fruit. Oh, if only I were getting paid for all the promotion I’m doing for her book!! It really is worth purchasing! Mine is underlined on almost every page!!

  5. Linda says:

    I love your blog and I love to garden. But I am not a seed starting person. I like to buy plants, vegetables and flowers already to go into the ground. can you direct me.

  6. Linda says:

    I love your blog and I love to garden. But I am not a seed starting person. I like to buy plants, vegetables and flowers already to go into the ground. can you direct me.

  7. Tigersmom says:

    I could never quite jump on the kale bandwagon. Possibly because I avoid bandwagons like the plague.

    On a side note – When I was talking to the customer service rep about ordering an issue of the Canadian magazine in which your kitchen reno was featured I asked her if we (the US) could give Canada back Justin Beiber in a trade for you. She wasn’t interested.

    • Heather says:

      You may not, under any circumstances, steal our Karen!

      • Tigersmom says:

        I realize it’s a very American (and not to open another can of worms, but I’m referring to myself as a US American. I am well aware that North America contains another country, but Americans are what we’re called by most everyone else) thing to appropriate the natural resources of other countries, but I was offering a TRADE.

        I cannot honestly call it a fair trade, but I don’t believe we ever asked for the Beibs anyway, unless you’re attempting to count the screams of countless tweenage girls of questionable taste. Those don’t count as they are not allowed to vote for reasons which I think I’ve made obvious. However, and in light of the fact that even you nice Canadians are loathe to take him back, I will thank you for sharing Karen, as she is a prize.

        • Heather says:

          Thanks for the offer, Tigersmom, but I think we will cut our losses on the Biebs. As for Karen – you have to realize that part of the reason she is who she is is because she is Canadian. We’ve given you (Americans) enough of our talent throughout the years. Unfortunately you get some bad apples thrown in there every once in awhile. ๐Ÿ™‚

          Come for a visit! It’s a great place (as is yours.)

          Maybe we should stop talking about Karen as if she wasn’t in the room.

        • Tigersmom says:

          Karen, are you in the room?

          Please know, Heather, that I’m just attempting to be humorous. I claim no rights to Karen (and definitely not to the Beib (looks like he’s becoming an orphan, poor thing because if anyone ever needed a parent…) and I love Canada and Canadians.

          I meant to apologize for attempting to broker such a lopsided deal. So, I am sorry for that. It would have been completely unfair and I was being self-deprecating when I referred to how American it was to snatch up the resources of others, but I was only joking.

        • Karen says:

          LOL. I’m here now. I was in a meeting earlier and missed all the fun. ~ karen!

  8. ~JackieVB says:

    I just planted Dinosaur Kale because of your last post about it – hope mine doesn’t end up with that horrible head in the middle!

  9. jainegayer says:

    I grew my own lettuce last year because you inspired me. This year I’ve got lettuce and green onions and tomato seedlings sitting by the window waiting to get transplanted into boxes to grow on my deck. Thank you Karen for the inspiration.

  10. Jack Ledger says:

    As I grow older and exercise seems to be eluding me I have been considering all sorts of solutions to becoming fit and strong without indulging in the millenium’s (I think that is what you call them) search for the best Crossfit outlet. I have come up with two solutions, only one of which I believe has some merit. First was growing my hair down to my backside…….being Easter and reflecting on the story of Samson I thought this would accomplish my goal with little more effort than waiting for time to pass. But, alas, I continue to have difficulty lifting my sorry ass out of bed in the morning. And this leads me to my second solution which has a little more to do with your blog this morning and that is……SPINACH!. Apparently this is supposed to be a great source of iron and all things solid in mass. And I have noticed that you rarely speak of its mertis. And so, the next opportunity you get to espouse the attributes of leafy vegetables could you please mention this apparently forgotten symbol of all things strong and powerful. Perhaps this is the solution to my desire to accomplish Herculean tasks without having to actually pump iron which, apparently, is in abundant supply in my favorite vegetable, spinach.

    • Karen says:

      Actually kale is better for you Popeye, lol. ๐Ÿ™‚ ~ karen! p.s. I grow baby spinach, I just find it’s a bit of a pain to grow.

  11. Ann says:

    I will never stop loving kale. Cooked or raw in smoothies. Just love the stuff.

    I never ended up ordering a single seed this year. So now I am pretty much stuck planting Ferry Morse or Burpee seeds from the local big box store. Next year, tho, I must get back to placing my typical early orders from Johnny’s or Baker Creek.

  12. Su says:

    The ONLY way I have ever liked kale was in a brothy soup my MIL used to make with bacon bits and onions – hard to go wrong with those ingredients! I have a local nursery that is fascinated with heirloom plants, which is great because I have no space or light for starting seeds….. I may have to try those Mascotte beans tho….

    Please take Justin back…. he’s gonna get grounded and sent to his room!

  13. Olivia says:

    The only thing you don’t talk about much is about zones for these yummy veggies. You live WAY north of me. I’m in South Texas with very sandy soil and can grow a lot of things but different things, I’ve tried ordering seeds on your recommendations and just haven’t had much luck. Do you think you’ll ever give a class on the how and what for living in the hot south? Sign me up!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Olivia! The key to growing anything anywhere is your soil and amending it. Sandy soil can’t hold a lot of nutrients or moisture because everything just drains right through it. Amending it just means adding things to help it along. So adding peat moss. That will help bind the sandy soil and also retain moisture. Then you add compost. Compost has a lot of nutrients in it which your sand doesn’t. Compost also helps with moisture retention which is so important in hot, dry climates. You don’t need perfect soil all at once. Every year just amend it a little more and a little more and in a few years you’ll have great garden soil. The fast way to great garden soil is to grow in pots! And finally for places like California or Texas, using an Olla (Dripping Springs Ollas a company in Texas) is a great way to make the most of a small amount of water. Hope that helps. ~ karen!

  14. Mary Werner says:

    Kalettes? I love brussel sprouts and kale! Since I quit the large garden but have a tiny space in my front entryway by the sidewalk this is something I can plant – if the deer don’t get it first. Can you PLEASE post a list this fall when its time to order seeds? Florida is done with gardening by end of May so I need to order before Christmas. I might go for those tiny tomatoes also. And tiny blue corn – oh my granddaughter would LOVE this.

  15. April says:

    By chance do you have a seed that produces more time (not thyme… We have a couple of those already sprouting in the solarium)? This spring I seem to have bitten off far more than I could chew. No less than 17 fruit trees to put into the ground, a half dozen blueberry plants to set and an entirely reschemed garden. So an heirloom seed that produces an extra week between “too daggone cold to plant” and “Crap! We missed our window of opportunity” would be a big help. On a serious note…. Keep the great posts coming. My husband loves when I say… “Hey check this out! We should do something like this.” ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Christie says:

    I have not gotten off the kale bandwagon… And I was thinking of planting some, but if kale also grows another Biebs, I’m out!!!

  17. Ahhhh I realize how far behind I am. Looking forward to shovelling a path to the greenhouse soon!

  18. Ben says:

    I love the little Bieber Kale plant variety. Wish you would tell me how to get one for my own. He can underwear model for me anytime. Yum…

  19. Jen says:

    Any advice on where I could find Baby Vegetable Plants? Or how to tell what plants are those? I have a postage stamp garden and honestly need something where I don’t feel like I am crawling in the amazon to harvest tomatoes…

    • Megg says:

      I’ve bought Tom Thumb peas from baker creek heirloom.

      I’d bet have other miniature varieties too.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jen. I’ve linked to all the baby vegetable seeds. You might have trouble finding the seedlings for sale in the next year or two until they become more popular. Even then finding seedlings for this specialty kind of thing is tough. That’s why i’m always encouraging people to start seeds themselves. So they can grow things you can’t find otherwise. I have a whole shelf of plants started already and I spent WAY too much time just staring at them willing them to grow, lol. ~ karen!

  20. Ron says:

    Have signed up with to grow pawpaw (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_pawpaw) this year. Wish me luck!

    Am also looking at getting a fig tree.

  21. Jody says:

    Ok I’m jumping on the baby veg wagon. With big old walnut trees in back and little sunlight I want plants that will go in pots and do well. I’ve investigated getting a community garden plot but am too late for this year. Hopefully next year. Any inspiration on what to do with gazillion walnuts come late fall?

  22. Kristin Ferguson says:

    I grew Russian Red kale one year when a friend gave me a seedling. It was the most delicious kale–huge, fat leaves that were so vigorous and pristine that I didn’t even have to wash them. Water beaded up on the leaves like giant opals. It was tender, too, and totally bug-resistant. I made a dressing from lemon juice, olive oil, anchovies and garlic and then I chiffonaded the kale and MASSAGED it a bit to tenderize it, then tossed with the dressing, put it on plates, and topped it with microplaned aged gouda cheese and deeply roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped. This is my favorite salad ever. I stole it from a Brooklyn hipster joint I ate at once on vacation. So so good.

    But Karen, how can you grow (and, presumably, eat) kalettes when you don’t like brussels sprouts? Nutty, savory brussels sprouts? Caramelized almost black in a saute pan with lots of butter and salt and a hit of lemon juice at the last minute? Hmm? I know you don’t like brussels sprouts and don’t want anyone sending you their “even people who hate brussels sprouts love them prepared THIS way” so I hope you noticed I didn’t send you a recipe at all. Nope. But I did try this method with kalettes and it was great. Butter, hot pan, chopped kalettes, salt, pepper, more butter, cook until very dark, adding butter every so often, get them mahogany brown and caramelized, add a squirt of lemon juice at the end. When in doubt, add more butter. Resist the temptation to add water or stock b because they will steam instead of pan-roasting.

    • Karen says:

      Oh HELL no. I’m not growing those stupid things. I’m just letting all the nutters who do like them know about the dirty little things. ~ karen!

  23. Patti says:

    Used to say I’d never eat liver or beets … then I tried a fresh roasted beet salad. Now growing beets and still not eating liver … ever, ever

  24. Tina says:

    I’ve been buying kale for a long time…for my turtles. It took a while before I cooked it for myself. Yum. I do appreciate that its current popularity means that I find more choices in the store.

    I went to Veggiepalooza at the local Arboretum. I’m trying amaranth and quinoa this year, plus some new tomato varieties.

    Good luck to everyone in their gardening efforts.

  25. Luanne says:

    It is killing me to wait. ๐Ÿ™‚

    And thank you for the heads-up about blue jade corn! It’s also available locally (Winnipeg)! Plus the mascotte beans has reminded me of other bean tricks I want to try this year. I’m so excited for planting time. ๐Ÿ™‚

    (And pleased to report that I have only started about 20 plants indoors so far.)

  26. Jeni says:

    Have you tried cucamelons/mouse melons. They are crisp and very nice in salads and they are perennial. I think well worth growing…They did well in cape Town RSA. thanks for the great info, Jeni

    • Karen says:

      Yep. I grow mouse melons every year. In fact, once you grow mouse melons, chances are you’ll always be growing mouse melons, lol. They just pop up every spring now. ~ karen!

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