Friday, January 30, 2015

Interesting Tid-bits

by Marty Finkel

This month, when we’re all planning what’s new to try in our vegetable and ornamentals gardens as soon as we can start seeds and work the ground, the Tidbits section features the 2015 All-America Selections (

The mission statement of the AAS is:  “To promote new garden seed varieties with superior performance as judged in impartial trials in North America.”  The entries were trialed in the 2013-14 growing season side by side with two other similar varieties currently on the market, and the judges made analyses of growth habit, taste, disease resistance and more to determine if the entries were truly better than those already available.  Only those vegetables with superior taste and garden performance are given the AAS stamp of approval.  At the end of the trial season, scores and evaluations are sent to the AAS Office and an independent accounting firm for tabulation. That vegetables outnumbered flowers attests to the continuing interest of consumers in vegetable gardening.   The trial garden at the JC Raulston Arboretum at NCSU is for ornamentals.

Regional (listed for southeast) AAS vegetable winners are:
·      Brussels sprouts ‘Hestia’:  Only the second Brussels sprouts ever to be an AAS winner. Excellent flavor and noticeably more uniform than the comparison varieties.  It has potential for a second season as it tolerates both warm & cool weather.  Other varieties require cooler temperatures for sweetness.
·      Pepper ‘Sweet Sunset’:  Sets large amount of banana type fruit on compact, upright plants that don’t require staking and can be grown in containers.  It has high yields and produces early, often, and late into the season.
·      Pepper ‘Hot Sunset’:   Banana type, thick-walled with great taste, not just heat (650 Scoville units). Disease free, large, vigorous plants.
·      Tomato ‘Chef’s Choice Pink:  Indeterminate with 12-14 oz. pink beefsteak fruits on potato-leaf plants with resistance to many diseases.

National vegetable winners:
·      Lettuce ‘Sandy’:  The first lettuce winner since 1985, an oakleaf type with exceptional disease resistance, slow to bolt, and typically not bitter when heat stressed
·      Basil ‘Dolce Fresca’:  Genovese type.  Outshone comparison varieties.  Maintains attractive compact shape even after harvesting, excellent flavor, perfect for containers, borders, garden use.
·      Pepper ‘Emerald Fire’:  Extra large, tasty jalopena fruits (2,500 Scoville units) are prolific on compact plants.  Better disease resistance.
·      Pepper ‘Flaming Flare’:  Fresno type; sweeter tasting than other Fresno types.  When used in sauces, heat will increase depending on how late in the season it is harvested.
·      Pepper ‘Pretty N Sweet’:  Multi-purpose, as it is both ornamental and edible.  Multi-colored peppers on 18” plants have sweeter taste, are earlier, and more prolific than the comparisons.
·      Squash ‘Bossa Nova’:  Zucchini judged to have smooth flesh texture and sweet, mild flavor much    improved over other summer squash.  Compact     plants produce fruits earlier in the season and continue production for 3 weeks longer than comparison varieties.
·      Squash ‘Butterscotch’:  Small fruited with exceptionally sweet taste perfect for 1 or 2 servings.
Compact vines are space-saving; good for container growing.  Resistant to later season powdery

National Bedding Plant awards:
·      Petunia ‘Trilogy’:  Bright red for beds, baskets, containers.  Heat, rain resistant.
·      Salvia ‘Sun Jewel White’:  Dwarf, compact, prolific bloomer; attracts pollinators & hummingbird

Flower award:
·      Impatiens ‘Bounce Pink Flame’:  Sun or shade; completely downy mildew resistant
·      Impatiens ‘Spreading Shell Pink’:  Vigorous, spreading, thrives under high heat, rain, humidity.  Full sun or shade.

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