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.
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.
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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