When it comes to growing vegetables I want to be a winner, don’t you? I’m harvesting this year’s crops and already thinking about next year. I wish I had time to meticulously take notes on all the new vegetables and plants I grow. That way I could plan the very best garden with the very best predicted results for next season. Win! (Ha!)
Seriously, that would be a dream come true! I do take notes on many of my crops and watch them carefully. But sometimes I get busy and forget to write down what I’ve noticed. Or, I may think that if I had used a different growing method it would turn out better. I then determine to try the same crop again next year hoping for different results. I often wish my process was more exact.
If I took a poll, I bet there are a lot of gardeners like me.
Thankfully, the National Garden Bureau (NGB) combined with All-American Selections (AAS) already do much of what I’m too busy to do. These two organizations can quickly take every home garden to a new level. Visit their websites and you’ll find loads of helpful garden information and recommendations. The NGB is committed to a mission of improving the quality of life and environment through the increased use of seeds and plants. The AAS is a big part of helping them achieve their mission. Through AAS, impartial, confidential trials of never-before-sold seed varieties are conducted by professional horticulturalists throughout North America. It’s a fascinating process and one that provides home gardeners with an exceptional way of selecting proven seeds/plants for their own home gardens.
I recently had a fabulous opportunity to visit the trial gardens, meet some of the seed/plant breeders, and find out more about the process. If you’re a regular reader, you know my original intent was to blog about the trip throughout the week. But honestly, there was no time. The process was that intense. Over the next few months I’ll be sharing more of what I learned. But, today let me share with you a small selection of AAS winners that you should try in your garden next year. I’m already surveying my garden to find the best places.
10 Awesome Selections For Your Vegetable Garden
Dolce Fresca Basil – 2015 AAS Winner
I love basil. If you read my blog, you also know basil can be a problem. Dolce Fresca basil is a beautiful, compact bushy basil. The leaves are sweet and tender and can be used just as you would any Genovese basil. It’s a hearty, drought tolerant plant that returns to its ornamental shape even after harvesting. No more worries about not having pesto!
Pretty ‘N Sweet F1 Peppers – 2015 AAS Winner
This little pepper caught my attention as I strolled the veggie trial gardens. It may be low to the ground (18 inches), but the colors POP for an eye-catching ornamental. This is a pepper pretty enough to put in your front yard and get your summer growing off to a colorful start! You can decorate the borders of your garden and then eat it, too. Just like it’s name says, it has that unique characteristic of being both sweet and peppery. And don’t worry about attracting too much attention with it. It’s a prolific grower which will provide many to share!
Geisha Garlic Chives – 2015 AAS Winner
This gorgeous, organic garlic chive will add flavor and ornamental value to your garden. I saw it used as an border plant along with purple basil and fell in love. I also loved ist unique wider and flatter leaves. I’m excited to grow this variety and will use it in my stir-fries, soups and garlic butters. (Melt it over a steak and call it dinner!) When I saw this it was late in the season and just about to bloom. Beautiful! I’ve been told that the butterflies love it, too….another plus for this winner.
Hijinks F1 Pumpkins — 2011 AAS Winner
My pumpkin patch is growing vigorously this year, but after two seasons of the same small pumpkin variety I’m looking for a small pumpkin with great decorative and ornamental value. I found it in the Hijinks F1 pumpkin. This little sweetie is a perfect small jack-o-lantern that kids will love. It’s resistant to powdery mildew and removes easily from the plant with the stem remaining intact. An indeterminate grower, it’s also yields prolifically, maturing 100 days from seed. It’s long vines need plenty of space and spread up to 15 feet.
Chef’s Choice Orange F1 Tomato -2014 AAS Winner
Every time I’ve seen this tomato I’m taken aback by two things. 1) It’s amazing orange color…so vibrant. 2) The exceptional health of the plant. I tasted this winner at the veggie trials and it was as delicious as it’s beautiful. I’m planting this next year, but will be sure to supply strong supports. It’s fruit average 12 ounces but can weigh up to 1 pound! This tomato also matures in only 75 days from transplant. That is another huge plus in my cooler climate. I don’t mean to gush, but I’m truly excited about discovering this variety. You can bet you’ll be hearing more about this one from me next season!
Patio Baby F1 Eggplant – AAS 2014 Winner
This another sure winner in my garden growing plan. I’m incredibly excited about it! These beautiful eggplants can be grown in a container! The small, early harvested fruits (2-3 inches) are perfect to take from your patio to your grill. You can also dice them fresh into into a salad. The plant’s leaves and calyxes are thornless so there’s no worries for small children sneaking a peak at the growing fruit! (And yes, that means easier harvesting for you, too!). This baby eggplant is an early and prolific producer that you can continue to harvest through the entire season.
Artwork F1 Broccoli – 2015 AAS Winner
Artwork broccoli is new to the home garden. Once the first crowns of broccoli are harvested, this plant produces shoots with broccoli crowns that are truly a piece of art. This dark leafed plant is considered a gourmet variety. It will need some additional care as you strategically harvest the beautiful shoots for aesthetic appeal, but it’s well worth it. You’ll have delicious broccoli as well as a conversation starter in your garden!
‘Black Olive’ Ornamental Pepper — 2012 AAS Winner
This ornamental pepper is a beauty in the garden and just about anywhere else in your yard. It reaches a height of 20″ and produces dark purple to black clustered fruit peaking from behind nicely draping leaves. As the heat of summer progresses, the fruit turns red producing a stunning contrast against the dark purple foilage…and let’s not forget about those little purple flowers. Their brightness is another great feature. This little plant can also be grown in a container. I’m told you can also really mix it up and include it in a mixed bouquet. I have visions of cut dahlias and zinnias combined with these ornamental peppers! Now that’s hot!
Butterscotch Squash — 2015 AAS Winner
I’ve been on the search for a butternut squash and this may be it. I saw this one at the AAS display garden near my home. What a beauty. I love the trellis set in the back allowing the leaves and fruit to flow forward into the garden. I arrived at the garden just after a rainfall….so pretty. This smaller squash is perfect for a small space garden and those who need a smaller squash serving size. Bred to resist late season powdery mildew, I’m taking a serious look at this one.
Mascotte Bean – 2014 AAS Winner
If you’re looking for a good bean that won’t overtake your garden, then this is a great one to try. This is also a good bean to grow in a patio container or even a window box. The slender beans reside above the foliage for easy harvest and the white flowers make it a very pretty plant near or afar. I haven’t tasted this bean yet, but I’m told that it’s crunchy and flavorful. I’m excited to try this selection as it was selected specifically for it’s gardener-friendly habit.
Those are just a few selections to get you thinking ahead for next year. I encourage you to check out the user-friendly AAS Winners page for additional growing information on all these selections and to explore others I haven’t mentioned.