In April of 2006 I shared with you “NEW TO ME PART #1”. This spring some very “new” or different things showed up in my catalogues or in the Garden Centers/nurseries of Lincoln, so I am sharing with you “NEW TO ME PART #2”. For example, in “Grandma’s Garden” catalog there were seeds for a “PUMPKIN TREE”. I started them in the basement.  The envelope says it can grow 2 to 8 feet tall with 3 inch “pumpkins” on black stems.  My eight that came up are about 3 feet tall now with spines along the veins under the leaves. There are many little pumpkins. Its scientific name is “Solanum integufoliuna” which means it is an eggplant but I couldn’t find that species in my encyclopedia. If you go on the internet to the Backyard Farmer web site ( you can see what they look like. Click on the plant of the week for August 2, 2007.

          How about RED NOODLE ASPARAGUS BEANS? A snap bean with pods 16 to 20 inches long.  This catalog was fun to read. How about an orange tomato called “NEBRASKA WEDDING”? Or a fake wasp’s nest to keep wasps away. This works as they won’t enter each others territory.  Also, there is a round carrot the size of a radish that will grow in shallow soils. Its name is PARMEX and it is early and ready to eat.

          I have four Cockatiels and I try to give them salad greens every day. I have noticed they like endive.  The catalog directions say to treat it like lettuce and that there are 19,000 seeds per ounce. Cockatiels are Australian natives and annoy many of the ranchers by eating their crops.  In their salad I also grate carrots.  They pounce on little cheese crackers immediately.  Perhaps it is the orange color.  My books tell me that my birds will become obese if they have only seeds for food. 

          I have never eaten a BLACK RADISH. Since they don’t need much space, I will see how they are. They are advertised as hot!!! SUNGOLD TOMATO is a must in my garden every year.  It is a small cherry type with an orangish yellow color. They crack easily so will probably never be found in grocery stores, but they are perfect for a snack in the garden and a substitute for a drink as well. The last three summers they have been about six feet tall and come on quite early in clusters.

Last fall I filled two huge pots with potting soil and compost plus a goodly amount of granular sulphur and put them in full sun.  They settled over the winter and were very acidic this spring when some short BLUEBERRY bushes arrived.

          There is a new color in BAPTISIA this year.  It is a smoky, violet- purple and yellow that grows between 48 and 60 inches tall.  I haven’t noticed many of the native ones here in Lincoln.  Probably because it takes several years for the plants to have any size and they may get pulled up in the meantime but they do have blue, pea like flowers along a stem that later develops into black pods that do especially well in winter bouquets.  Since TWIGHLIGHT PRAIREBLUES is so new, it is also pricy. 

I am tempted to try to find room for the BLACK ELDERBERRY (Sambucus nigra) with its dark lacy foliage.  Different catalogs give it the names of “BLACK Beauty”, and Black Magic” and several suggest using it instead of the Japanese Maples that are questionable for our zone. BLACK LACE ELDERBERRIES are zones 4-9 and get 8 to 12 feet high with pink blooms. Do not expect the blooms for several years as it will spend that time developing a good root system.

          I have noticed also a bicolor BUTTERFLY BUSH (Buddleia weyeriana) zone 5-9 that has both butterscotch and lavender blooms on the same stalk.  For many years I could not keep Buddleia alive over the winter but the last few years they have done fine.  I cut them down to about 18 inches, put a cage around them and fill them with compost.  The 18 inches helps hold the compost in place and yet some springs I need to cut it to the ground. This is recommended anyway as they bloom on new wood.  My oldest bush (lavender) has seeded several new ones in full sun and good drainage. 

There is now a pink BLUE MIST CARYOPTERIS. For years I have called them blue spireas. They need to be treated the same as the BUTTERFLY BUSH and are just as loved by butterflies and bees.

          There is a BLACK PEARL SOYBEAN which are eaten before they ripen. EDAMAME BEANS are substituted for peas or lima beans in any recipe.  The beans are black and preferred in Japan for their taste. They are said to be sweet and nutty if picked before the pods turn color.  Like other legumes, edamame beans act with bacteria in the soil to produce nitrogen from the air that will feed other plants.  Japan has an edamame bean called “Beer Friend”. Pods are boiled in salt water and beans popped into the mouth during beer breaks.

          ROCKY is a new mini cucumber to be eaten when 2 to 3 inches and are called a one bite, seedless snack.  Seeds cost 55 cents apiece but the plants supposedly produce a good crop.  Something that sounds a little queer to me is a ROSE GARLIC. Those two words together seem odd but the “rose” consists of many small bulbs surrounded by larger ones inside the wrapper.

          Did you know you can get hats for your containers? They are made of material like Reemay (row cover) with draw strings. On a cold night you can run out and put a hat on a large container. Large ones are 24 inches high and 36 inches in diameter with medium hats 32 inches in diameter. Later on you can use them to protect any berries you have growing in pots.

          This spring I was given two red foliage hibiscus.  One is in the ground and one in a pot. They are both gorgeous as the leaves are deeply cut with a little green showing which makes the red redder.  They are not known for blooms-just foliage. 

A number of years ago I had a SORREL with red veins but it disappeared! So this spring I hunted in seed catalogs until I found it in the herb section and called BLOOD LEAF SORREL. It is low-only about 12 inches high.  Six seeds came up. I put the plants in a corner near a big red rock. They have long slender leaves about 2 inches wide.

I find it fun to try new plants or familiar plants in new colors. I hope you will try something new next year. Now is the time to plan and prepare your soil. That way you will be ready to go in the spring.  

Copyright 2007