All America Selections
The 2009 Awards
All America Selections is an organization that has been testing new varieties of annual flowers and vegetables for 75+ years. When I see each years new awards I almost always put them on my must have list. Some of the best new plants such as Sugar Snap Peas were introduced as previous winners. Click on the logo to go to their web page.
The All America award winners for 2009 are particularly interesting for me because they have three very interesting vegetables.
One would make a good container plant and the other two would be an interesting challenge in a container but would be quite easy in the garden. There is also one new annual flower a Viola. All America Selections is a large independent organization that does extensive testing of many varieties of plants in various locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. Any new variety that they give an award to usually performs very well for whoever grows it.
Gretel is a new eggplant that will be wonderful in containers. It produces clusters of white fruit that mature at about 8 - 10 cm with a tender skin, few seeds and a sweet flavour. They should produce ripe fruit about 55 days from planting out. Eggplant, in general, is a great container subject because of its interesting foliage and colourful flowers and fruit and Gretel somewhat compact habit will make it an ideal candidate.
Lambkin is a white fleshed melon that will mature in 65 -75 days from transplanting. It has a thin rind and sweet, aromatic flesh. The melons are oval shaped and weigh 1 - 2 Kg. They will be great garden subjects especially if you have some sort of trellis or fencing to train them up. The vines will reach 2m in length and are quite vigorous. They would be very interesting container subjects if you had a large container that would hold a 2m obelisk. The fruit belongs to a group known as the ‘Christmas Melons’ because of their long storage capabilities.
The third veggie is an acorn type Squash, Honey Bear. It has a sweet flavour but its main attribute is its resistance to powdery mildew. In the cool weather of the fall it will continue to thrive and ripen its fruit when most other squash have succumbed to the mildew. It produces 3 - 5 fruit on each of the compact bushy plants, making it ideal for small vegetable gardens. Its ability to l produce ripe fruit in about 100 days form outdoor sowing, combined with the mildew resistance guarantees a successful crop of sweet tasting Squash for the home gardener.
The one flower getting an AAS award this year is a Viola, “Rain Blue and Purple.” Like most Violas it is an excellent cool season flower and will give long seasons of spring or autumn colour. It also tolerates warmer weather than many Violas and could make a good long season annual. It’s main claim to fame is the flower colour which changes from purple and white to purple and blue as the flowers age. These changeable flowers are quite large for Violas making it to almost 4cm and will continue to flower without any deadheading. They will grow about 15cm in height and spread up to 35cm. They do require a significant 70 days from sowing before they start to flower and thus need to be started early indoors particularly since they can go outside quite early in the season.
These new varieties are readily available from many of the large seed catalogues and All America Selections web site will provide further information and sources.
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