Over the past few years the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney has trialled and tested hundreds of cultivars from plant breeders across the globe in its Trial Garden, located near the Conservatorium Gate.
With that information the Garden releases the Top 40 performing annuals, perennials and natives that feature amazing flower power, vigour and pest resistance best suited to the local Sydney climate.
Take the guess work out of gardening
The latest plant cohort for the 2020 trials consist of 220 cultivars, and the results are now in.
For the first time ever we road test vegetables and fruit to come up with the best performing warm season crops in Sydney’s climate for your home plot. Our inaugural fruit and vegetable trial started in spring 2020 with a focus on warm-season crops.
We included a few different varieties of zucchini, cucumber, corn, chillies, and beans in our test. We chose to use a mix of heritage seed varieties, some new releases on the market and a few long-running standard cultivars you could buy at your local nursery.
Following seven months of closely observing their growth, their resistance to pest and disease, weighing their yield and, of course, taste tests, these are the four best performing edibles for your home veggie patch.
Zucchini ‘Costata Romanesco’
We grew this heritage variety from seed. It is an impressive structural plant for the vegie plot with lovely large yellow flowers. Just bare in mind one plant will take up just over a square meter. In taste tests, this variety was favoured for its flavour and its ability to resist going mushy during cooking.
Powdery mildew – the bane of Sydney gardeners - caused no problem for this variety, and it only succumbed at the end of summer. By the end of the season, we harvested over 65kgs of fruit from six plants. For beauty, flavour, crop yield and disease resistance, the ‘Costata Romanesco’ is a real top performer.
Cucumber ‘Suyu Long’
With crisp fruit growing up to sixty centimetres long without going dry and hollow, this heritage cultivar was the best performing cucumber of the two we trialled. This one is a climber, so you can build trellises and utilise your garden's vertical space.
Completely pest and disease-free in our trials. From six plants, we harvested 37 fruit with a total yield of 27kgs. Some of the staff participating in the taste tests said it was great for pickling.
Strawberry ‘Summer Breeze Rose’
This new variety is both edible and ornamental. The plant itself grows in a tight bun shape which holds through the season and throws out bright red flowers, making it an excellent feature plant in the veggie plot.
The fruit is mild and medium-sized. Pest and disease resistance during our trial, but like all strawberries, should be replaced every two years due to viral plant diseases that will affect fruiting.
Okra or Lady’s Finger
One of the few veggies you can grow that is low water and drought tolerant. We grew both red and green varieties with visitors to the garden often commenting on the structural beauty of the red cultivar with its wine red stem and leaf venation.
Being in the Hibiscus family you get butter yellow flowers as well as fruit. From twelve plants we harvested just under 8kgs of fruit over summer. Its compact nature and continuous cropping make it great for small gardens and the fruit is irresistible steamed and served with soy sauce and sesame oil.
So that’s the four veggie crops that made it into our recently released top 40 best-performing plants in the Trial Garden of 2020. Work is already well underway in establishing our cool-season vegetable trial, so be sure to pop into the Garden, say ‘hi’ and see how they’re growing!
Check out the past winners here or find more inspiration for your home garden on the Gardening at Home section of our site.