Thursday, May 31, 2012

What, AAS Winners in My Garden?!

Most of the planting is now done and I am getting excited about some of the heirloom vegetables I have put in this year, particularly the heirloom tomatoes and some of the heirloom Italian vegetables like Costata Romanesco. And next year I hope to try more heirlooms, particularly Italian varieties. I have come far from the days when I would peruse the Burpee and Parks catalogs and be seduced by the glossy color photos of the latest All-American Selections (AAS) winners, I smugly thought. But in taking an inventory of the garden I find I have a lot of AAS winners in my garden. None were consciously selected because of the AAS label but because I wanted them for their characteristics and appeal. Some won their AAS designation more than two decades ago! That’s a real testament to the value of the AAS selection process. Here are the AAS winners I am growing this year but didn't know I was.

Eggplant 'Fairy Tale' (2005)

There are so many varieties of eggplant (Asian, Middle Eastern, Italian heirloom) but garden centers around here mostly offer transplants labeled “Eggplant”or “Classic”. I wanted to try something new, so that meant starting plants from seed. Fairy Tale was one of my choices, a miniature violet eggplant striped with white. It looks like an Italian heirloom type but it is actually an F1 hybrid and the first eggplant to win the AAS since 1939. The plants are petite as well and should work out well in my SFG at one per square. Unfortunately, this is a Seminis variety that I may not buy again, although Johnny’s is not listed as a vendor of the Seminis seeds. Check here for a list of Seminis varieties to avoid.

Eggplant Fairy Tale

Tomato 'Juliet' (1999)

This one is new for me this year. I saw it at the garden centers last year but didn’t know what it was. Then my neighbor in the garden planted a couple of these because her husband likes them and they were amazingly productive. So I put in a couple to try this year.

Tomato Juliet

Squash 'Sunburst' (1985)

What a great patty pan squash. The color is a stunning yellow with a green button on the flower end. It attracts a lot of attention but the best part  is the eating. The flesh is buttery smooth, not gritty, with no astringency. You can slice these up and eat them raw. They are great for dips.

Squash Sunburst

Pea 'Sugar Ann' (1984)

If I grow snap peas, this is always my go to selection, so it’s no surprise it is in my garden. I have grown it for years, just forgot it was an AAS winner. It is short-vined and I don’t have to trellis this one.

Pea Sugar Ann

Ornamental Pepper 'Black Pearl' (2006)

I saw these peppers last year at Tower Hill Botanical Gardens. I was blown away with their beauty and wrote about them. The leaves are dark purplish, almost black, and the fruits are shiny black pearls, turning red when ripe. I tried starting these from seed this year. Only four of five germinated and I have three surviving plants, with only one showing any growth (crappy starter mix, but more on that later).

Ornamental Pepper Black Pearl

Swiss Chard 'Bright Lights' (1998)

Bright Lights is certainly attractive but I have no luck growing it. I have yet to get even one stalk, while my neighbor had bushel baskets of it. So I swore off it this year and bought seeds for Orange Fantasia, also a spectacular chard with orange stalks and deep green leaves. I have some going in the garden now, but saw some vigorous and well grown Bright Lights transplants at the garden center. Since I had a square free, I picked some up and here I am with another AAS winner in the garden. I hope I get some this year. This one was bred by Johnny's.

Swiss Chard Bright Lights

Cucumber 'Diva' (2002)

Last year I bought transplants and had so-so success (a lot of disease). This year I decided to buy seeds to give me a better choice of plants. I chose Diva because it is described as very productive (all female flowers), sweet, tender skinned, and tolerant to mildew, which was a huge problem last year. These were direct seeded in the garden last Saturday. They were bred by Johnny's.

Cucumber Diva

Lettuce 'Red Sails' (1985)

I have grown this variety for years. It’s a beautiful lettuce, green with red-tinged edges. However, it is a little disturbing to find this was bred by a Seminis, company, but Seminis does not list it on their vegetable seed list. Hopefully the seed I bought was not produced by them. I will have to consider buying something else next year.


Dill 'Fernleaf' (1992)

I am planting pickling cukes again, and since I am hoping to make pickles, one of course needs dill. What else would you choose besides Fernleaf?

Dill Fernleaf

Basil, Thai 'Siam Queen' (1997)

I already have the usual basil planted in several squares but was looking for a Thai pepper plant. I didn’t find a pepper plant but did find this intriguing basil. The smell was wonderful and it is an attractive plant, so I couldn’t resist. Also picked up a Greek basil, another great find.

Thai Basil Siam Queen

So I found I have nine All-America Winners in my 2012 garden that I didn’t know I had. I chose them because I wanted to plant those varieties. What do you have in your garden?

Note: Since I did not have vegetables to photograph yet, all images used above are courtesy of the All-America Selections website.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for visiting. I appreciate your taking the time to comment and value what you have to contribute to the discussion.

Template developed by Confluent Forms LLC