Saturday, April 4, 2015
A sampling of the new All-America Selections winners for 2015
To be considered for AAS testing, plant breeders must enter new, never sold before, cultivars. I've grown AAS winners since I was a teenager, but this year, I have been asked to grow, evaluate and blog about some of the winners from the past five years. So last week, a big box of seeds arrived and I spent a happy hour pouring through the box, choosing what to grow. I ended up starting 8 flats of seeds, selecting a combination of vegetables, herbs and ornamentals. As the spring turns to summer, I will continue to blog about these award-winning plants and update you on their progress, successes and failures.
Here are a few of the 2015 All-America Selections Winners that I'll be growing in my garden this year. To see more of current and past award winners, just visit the AAS website.
I know you're going to think I'm weird, but sometimes when I'm feeling snacky, I crave broccoli! I'll steam up an entire head, sprinkle it with salt and devour it in mere minutes. Therefore I'm rather excited to try this new AAS award-winning broccoli.
Artwork is a stem broccoli, which means that the central head is just the opening act. After the initial crown is harvested, the plants begin to pump out side shoots for a long harvest of tender, bite-sized florets. The plants continue to produce stem (also called baby) broccoli for an extended period of time and are both heat and bolt resistant. I'm looking forward to testing this in my spring and early summer garden, but I also want to see how it fares for fall and winter harvesting.
This is the first lettuce to win and AAS award in 30 years!! Wow, it must be good.
Sandy is a green oakleaf type lettuce that produces tight rosettes of crinkly leaves that are mild and sweet. The plants are resistant to powdery mildew and bolting, which means they won't throw in the towel on that first warm summer day.
AAS suggests growing Sandy in containers and/or the garden, so I'm going to do both to see how it fares. I've already seeded about a 1/2 flat under my grow lights and will try direct seeding it in the garden as soon as the snow disappears (June? July? AGH!)
It's great to see such a strong showing of veggies and herbs winning AAS awards in 2015, including this unique and beautiful summer squash. Bossa Nova boasts exceptional flavour and eating quality, but for me, it's the gorgeous fruits that make this a must-grow.
Each elongated squash has a mottled combination of dark and light green skin, which contrasts nicely against the dark green leaves, making the fruits more visible. No more missed zucchinis hiding beneath the foliage that grow to the size of baseball bats!
Ok, I'm a basil freak. It's my #1 herb and I'm growing about a dozen varieties this year, but Dolce Fresca is the one I'm most excited about.
In growth habit, it's compact, forming a tidy mound that averages about 18 inches tall and 12 inches wide. The plants are quite dense, and attractive enough to be tucked in ornamental beds and containers.
It fills in quickly after each harvest and is also drought tolerant. If you have trouble growing basil, a common complaint among gardeners, consider giving Dolce Fresca a try!
Do you have a favourite All-America Selections award winner?