Remember when kale was the vegetable to grow?
Like clothes and hairstyles, vegetable gardening follows trends, too. And every year, plant and seed companies release new plant varieties to entice adventurous gardeners.
But you don’t need to be a pro gardener to grow the newest vegetables and herbs. You just need a willingness to experiment. Plus, it’s fun to change up your home garden from the same standard vegetables and herbs that everyone else is growing. (We’re looking at you red tomatoes, bell peppers, and Italian basil.)
Thousands of unexpected, new, and heirloom varieties of herbs and vegetables are waiting for you to grow them. From surprising cabbage to deep purple carrots.
Now’s the time to go a little plant crazy and spice up your home garden with this year’s new varieties. (Don’t worry, we still love you kale.)
Ready for the Picking. Grow These 11 Trendy New Herbs and Veggies in Your Garden This Year
Get excited about growing this year’s new herbs and vegetables. From exotic greens to deeply colored tomatoes to exciting basil varieties, these are this year’s trendy new herbs and vegetables to grow.
1. Aristotle Basil
Looking at the small leaves on this plant, you probably wouldn’t recognize it as basil. But it is! This basil grows as a dwarf bush plant with teeny tiny leaves.
“It is much more compact than most basils and is highly aromatic and disease-resistant. And, this particular basil tastes as good as it looks,” says Susan Brandt, co-founder of Blooming Secrets, a gardening website that provides personalized selections based off location and gardening know-how.
Its small leaves make it ideal for growing in pots and containers. But it isn’t delicate. It features strong stems, late flowering, and good tolerance to poor weather, which makes it a good choice for both a newbie or a pro’s home garden. And, it flowers late, which means it has an extended harvest season.
Give it rich soil and keep it consistently moist. Mulch the plant to retain moisture, and water heavily during dry spells. It needs partial to full sun. “It is best to harvest the plant before the cold weather comes, as this will affect the leaves’ texture and flavor,” Brandt says. “You can freeze the entire stems, with the leaves still attached, for best flavor retention. Or, dry the leaves for seasoning.” It can grow eight inches high and 12 inches wide. You can even grow it year round.
2. Beni Houshi Mizuna
Mizuna is a spicy Asian green. And this variety offers a twist on this ancient crop. Beni houshi mizuna features bright purple stems, unlike any other mizuna.
“The beautiful color isn’t its only outstanding quality. It is well adapted to both heat and cold extremes and is suitable for several harvests,” says John Brazaitis, General Manager of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. “It becomes more tasty and cool-adapted with each successive cutting.”
Where to buy: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, 50 seeds, $3
3. Black Goji Berry
Known as a superfood, the black goji berry is a powerhouse of nutrients. “The black goji is known to be more healthful and potent than the more widely known red goji, and we find the flavor sweeter,” Brazaitis says.
Even though this plant is native to Central Asia, you can easily grow it in your garden if you live in zones 5-10. (Check your zone.)
Besides eating the berries straight off the plant, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds recommends adding them to smoothies, putting dried berries in granola, baking them into muffins, or steeping them into a tea. “These tasty and potent berries create an outstanding blue color when steeped or added to foods,” Brazaitis says.
It grows as a shrub reaching four to six feet tall.
Where to buy: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, 25 seeds, $3.50
4. Black Nebula Carrot
This dramatic purple carrot (both inside and outside!) makes a pretty addition to a home garden. Grow the black nebula carrot with other varieties too, so you can pull up a rainbow of colored carrots.
“When this carrot is juiced, the juice is, of course, the wonderful dark purple color but when you add a squeeze of lemon to it, it becomes bright pink,” Brazaitis says.
Where to buy: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, 300 seeds, $3
5. Brad’s Atomic Grape Tomato
From lavender to technicolor green, these rainbow beauties add tons of color—and flavor—to a garden. While they look delicate, they hold up well. These grape tomatoes range in size from a large grape to plum-sized.
Brazaitis says Brad’s atomic grape tomato is exciting because it tastes great, is easy to grow and is a prolific producer. “The fruits have outstanding color and a taste that satisfies,” he says.
Where to buy: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, 15 seeds, $4
6. Candy Cane Red Snack Pepper
With a sweet taste, crispy texture, and small size, this new pepper variety is perfect for getting your snack on.
“In the last two years, there have been numerous introductions of different pepper varieties,” Brandt says. “Candy cane red snack pepper is one of them.”
You can grow these peppers, which vary in color from green and white stripes to solid red, in containers or in the ground. “If you live in an urban area and have limited space, this is a great one to try,” Brandt says.
They bloom in summer. “If you buy plants, they will harvest in 21 to 40 days and they need six to eight hours of full or partial sun,” Brandt says. “If you grow them from seeds, it will take 40 to 45 days to maturity for green striped and 60 to 65 days to maturity for ripe red.”
7. Green Leaf Fennel
This soft, feathery fennel variety doesn’t have a bulb like other fennels. Instead, you harvest it like an herb and pinch off blooms to keep it from going to seed.
“Normally, I don’t enjoy the flavor of fennel but this variety adds a bit of sweetness to it,” says Tatyana Rodriguez of the gardening blog, Florence’s Flowers. Rodriguez has a Bachelor’s degree in Biology with a focus on Botany. Use this fennel in salads, slaws, and dressings.
Plant it in full sun and keep the soil consistently moist. If transplanting, you can harvest it right away.
Where to buy: bonnieplants.com (Put in your zip code to find the nearest retailer that carries the seeds.)
8. Midnight Snack Cherry Tomato
Add unexpected color to your garden with these midnight snack cherry tomatoes. They ripen bright red and, when exposed to sunlight, transform into a glossy black-purple.
“The coloration comes from the accumulation of anthocyanin pigments,” Brandt says. “This is the same reason blueberries are blue and contain healthy antioxidants. It means this particular variety has more antioxidants than a regular tomato.”
“I love tomatoes and with cherry tomatoes, they don’t take up as much space when growing them,” Brandt says.
When growing the midnight snack cherry tomato, you can purchase them as plants or seeds. When planting them, make sure to choose a location with full sun and a good, rich, moist organic soil, Brandt says. Make sure to put your tomato cage or plant support in the soil when you plant them, so you don’t disturb their roots later. Grow them in the spring and fall.
9. Pesto Party Basil
Get ready to get your pesto on. This basil variety produces lots of leaves (perfect for pesto) and has a sweet basil flavor.
It grows great in pots. “Try growing this in a pot right outside your kitchen,” Brandt says. “This basil is also a late-flowering variety, which means it has a longer harvest.”
Like all basil, this variety loves sun. Although, it will tolerate partial shade. Plant it in rich, moist but well-drained soil to keep it happy. You can grow it from seeds or buy the plant. Be sure to pinch the stems to encourage it to grow bushy rather than up. And, pinch off any flowers to prolong the harvest.
10. Prizm Kale
Oh kale yeah! This compact kale variety produces short, ruffled leaves and grows great in containers. So, if you don’t think you have room to grow kale, you have room for this one.
“Prizm kale is an industry award-winning plant that is nutty tasting and has attractive foliage,” Brandt says.
This easy-to-maintain plant quickly re-leafs, so harvest the plant early and often for a continual supply all season long. It prefers cool weather, so plant it in spring and fall. It also needs partial sun and takes 50 to 60 days to harvest.
“This plant is great for eating fresh in salads or smoothies and can also be cooked,” Brandt says.
11. Red Dragon Chinese Cabbage
This isn’t your ordinary cabbage. “This Chinese cabbage is purple (or bright red) as opposed to the green napa,” Rodriguez says. “The flavor in the red dragon is also slightly stronger.”
This pretty purple cabbage is perfect for salads, stir-fries, and kimchi, according to johnnyseeds.com.
Grow it in late summer because it prefers milder temperatures. Start seedlings in mid to late June. Or, plant seeds directly in the ground from late May to mid-July.
Where to buy: johnnyseeds.com, 100 seeds, $5.10
Whether you grow new varieties of plants or not, what matters is that you’re growing your own food. (Or trying!)
“Being connected to your food is one of the most important things you can do for your health,” Brazaitis says. “Knowing where your food comes from and how it is grown is key in appreciating what you are consuming.”
Plus, you have control. You can grow your food without pesticides and chemical fertilizers and you’ll know right where it came from. Your home garden.
“Growing your own food is usually less expensive than purchasing in the grocery store. Your ingredients are fresher and make cooking fun,” Brandt says. “Gardening is also a wonderful way to connect with nature and de-stress from our everyday lives.”