Are you tired of growing the same varieties of plants year after year? Or, maybe you’re looking for something new to grow in your garden this year? Consider growing some of the 2017 All-American Selections winners. All-American Selections (AAS) is an independent, non-profit organization that tests new varieties, and then introduces only the best garden performers as AAS winners. What does it take to become an AAS winners selection? According to their website, “Judges look for significantly improved qualities such as earliness to bloom or harvest, disease or pest tolerance, novel colors or flavors, novel flower forms, total yield, length of flowering or harvest and overall performance. In the last ten years an entry needs to have at least two significantly improved qualities to be considered by Judges for an AAS Award.”
The national fruit and vegetable winners for this year are:
• Fennel Antares F1 – This is the first time AAS has ever trialed and selected a fennel as an AAS winner. Judges described this variety as, “a very uniform, pure white, beautiful plant with a much improved, almost sweet, licorice/anise flavor as compared to other market varieties.” It is also slower to bolt (flower) compared to other varieties. In addition to being used for human consumption, it is also a food source for pollinators, especially swallowtail caterpillars.
• Pepper Mad Hatter F1 – Mad Hatter is a variety of the Capsicum baccatum species. These peppers are native to South America and used in cuisine there. These vigorous plants produce unique-looking peppers are three-sided that have “a refreshing, citrusy floral flavor that remains sweet, only occasionally expressing mild heat near the seeds.”
• Tomato Patio Choice Yellow F1 – This compact tomato was developed specifically for container gardens. Growing only 18 inches tall, this determinate plant can produce over (one hundred) ½-ounce bright yellow cherry tomatoes.
• Okra Candle Fire F1 – Candle fire is a bright red (compared to other red okras) that has a unique shape that is round instead of ribbed. In addition to its high marks for taste and productivity this plant can also be used as an ornamental because of its red pods and stems.
• Watermelon Mini Love F1 – This is a personal sized watermelon. It produces short 3-4 foot vines, which allows it to be grown in smaller areas compared to other watermelons, and can produce up to six fruit per plant. The fruit have crack and split resistant rinds and a deep red flesh that is high in sugar content.
Whether you’re an experienced gardener or just starting out, make sure to check out these and other AAS winners. To see a list of all of the winners dating back to 1934, visit the All-American Selections website at: http://all-americaselections.org/.