Lean on me The veggies are small—but not the plants! Plan to reinforce pepper plants with stakes and support trailing cherry tomato and cucamelon vines with cages, stakes or trellises.
Itty bitty These cuties are about half the size of the cherry or grape tomatoes at the store—pop them by the handful like blueberries!
At The Chef’s Garden in Huron, Ohio, Farmer Lee Jones watches culinary trends for his restaurant clients. They love petite vegetables, and Lee thinks you will, too: “If we want to eat healthy, the trick is to make it fun, and mini vegetables are both fun and flavorful.” Here are four to try in your garden this summer.
Left-right: cherry tomatoes, cucamelons, ground cherries
Miniature tomatoes are easy to grow and produce a bounty for snacks, salads and roasting. For the tiniest fruits, search for currant varieties, such as All-America Selections winner ‘Candyland Red’. For a slightly larger 1-inch fruit, consider ‘Patio Choice Yellow’, purple-black ‘Midnight Snack’ or ‘Sungold’, an exceptional orange variety that scored well in a recent tomato grower survey.
These Wonka-worthy veggies are the darlings of farmers markets and Instagram posts. Also known as Mexican sour gherkins, mouse melons or sanditas (“little watermelons” in Spanish), cucamelons taste like cucumber with a touch of lemon. They’re best harvested at 1 inch (grape-size). Enjoy them raw, pickled or floating in a cocktail.
These marble-size golden gems taste like cherry tomatoes infused with pineapple and mango juice. Similar to tomatillos, the fruits are wrapped in papery husks and fall from the plants as they ripen, hence the name ground cherry. Unwrap them to eat in salads, jams, pies, cobblers, sauces or even dried in a dehydrator like raisins.
Like their full-size cousins, mini peppers thrive in Midwest heat, and the plants are well-suited for containers. You can sometimes find plants at nurseries, but if growing from seed, try ‘Baby Belle’ or ‘Sweetie Pie’, a 2017 All-America Selections winner.
Give your plants a boost you can feel good about.
Miracle-Gro Performance Organics This new line from a trusted brand promises results that meet (or may even beat) the familiar original blue powder. Find it at retailers nationwide.
Garden Maker Naturals This Kansas-based line of targeted organic fertilizers includes mixes just for tomatoes or herbs. Avid gardeners can even order custom blends to suit their soil.