Burpee’s Boost Vegetables

Fresh vegetables just can't get any more local than your own back yard, and every new season stimulates gardeners' appetites to try new varieties. This year, vegetables are better for you than ever.

One of Burpee's important new introductions is the BOOST line of vegetables, developed for great taste and extra-high vitamin and nutritional values. Three tomatoes, a pepper, a cucumber, and a healthy blend of lettuce and baby greens are all designed to hit "that sweet spot," says George Ball, CEO and chairman of Burpee. These new varieties have up to five times more of the healthful anti-oxidants, beta-carotene, and lycopene than usual.

The three BOOST tomatoes are all salad tomatoes: 'Cherry Punch' and 'Power Pops' are cherry tomatoes and packed with Vitamin C, a half-cup serving of 'Cherry Punch' tomatoes has 90 percent of the recommended daily requirement of Vitamin C, which is one-third more than other tomatoes. It's easy to eat that many on your way back into the kitchen from the garden. The pretty 'Solar Power' tomato has larger fruit and three times the healthful beta-carotene of an average tomato. You can get a quick start on growing them by buying transplants.

"We were looking for things that had substantially and meaningfully high concentrations of nutrient values," Ball says of the hybridization work that produced the BOOST line. It takes about five years to hybridize a new tomato, and "this is just the beginning," he says. "We are working on a number of crops, including a large bell pepper and a large tomato."

'Gold Standard', the BOOST cucumber, has five times the beta-carotene of ordinary cucumbers. 'Sweet Heat' peppers are three to four inches long and have 65 percent more Vitamin C than normal peppers. They're mildly hot when they're green, and sweet at the ripe red stage. 'Sweet Heat' peppers are available as seeds or transplants.

The 'Healing Hands' salad mix of four loose-leaf lettuce varieties in the BOOST line-up is especially recommended for spring and fall planting in hot-summer areas. They are high in anti-oxidants and easy to grow from pelleted seeds. The colors and textures of this salad mix look pretty in the garden or in a pot, and even better in a salad bowl.