A song called “One-Ton Tomato” (a parody of “Guantanamera”), as aired by radio host Dr. Demento in 1980, has stuck mercilessly in my mind ever since, and I recall it each year when the new Burpee seed catalogue comes in the mail. Last year’s cover featured SuperSauce, “the world’s largest sauce tomato.” This year’s cover slays records with “the world’s largest beefsteak,” SteakHouse Hybrid. Seekers will also encounter El Gordo on Page 41, “the biggest cantaloupe in the garden” and Big Kahuna, a bean with “giant 11-inch pods,” on Page 26.
All gardeners love to flip through catalogues to see what’s new for spring, but there’s no uniformity as to what catches the eye. For those with small families, small appetites or small fridges, petite vegetables win the prize. This year, Seed Savers, Baker Creek, Johnny’s Selected Seeds and Territorial all feature a three-inch cucumber called Miniature White. And I notice that both John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds and Renee’s Garden (the latter found on seed racks in stores) have introduced Honey Nut, a sweet-tasting butternut squash so small and light you can trellis it upward to save space — for those who have small gardens, too.