It is never too early to start planning your garden! The All-America Selections for 2019 have been announced and I want to share the results. I have included a few outstanding vegetable selections (although all of the winners are outstanding) as well as a couple of ornamental varieties that would complement any garden.
Each year the All-America Selections (AAS) organization tests a number of new varieties that seed breeders are interested in releasing to the gardening public to determine how well the varieties will perform throughout the United States. All America Selections was founded in 1932 with the mission “to promote new garden varieties with superior garden performance judged in impartial trials in North America.” National winners are announced in January, November and July.
The seeds are “trialed” at numerous locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. Data on characteristics such as color, disease resistance and size are rated by judges. The data is aggregated and selection of national winners is made. If a selection performs exceptionally well in a region (Ohio is in in the Great Lakes region) but not in all regions sometimes the variety is designated a regional winner.
In addition to trial gardens, there are a number of All-America Selection display gardens through the United States. In fact, there are eight in Ohio alone that feature displays of both edible and ornamental winners. The closest are located in Wooster on the Ohio State University, Agriculture and Technical Institute (ATI) campus and the Rockefeller Greenhouse and Gardens in Cleveland.
Last June, I had the opportunity to tour the Snyder Park AAS trial gardens that are managed by the Clark County Extension Master Gardener Volunteers and picked out a few “must haves.”
Some 2019 selections are:
• Tomato, ‘Chef’s Choice Black F1’
The latest addition to the ‘Chef’s Choice’ series is an indeterminate beefsteak-type tomato with black, green and chocolate-colored overtones. Richly flavored, you can expect to harvest about 30 8-ounce fruits per plant. Although the plant needs staking, its final height is about 5 feet. ‘Chef’s Choice Black F1’ exhibits good disease resistance and pairs well with other varieties in the ‘Chef’s Choice’ series.
• Pepper, ‘Just Sweet F1’
With the traditional shape of a four-lobed bell pepper, it is slightly larger than a lunch box-sized pepper. ‘Just Sweet F1’ is a vigorous grower with a bushy habit. The final height of 3 feet makes this a perfect plant for children. The peppers are extremely bright yellow and sweet with great aroma.
• Nasturtium, ‘Baby Rose’
‘Baby Rose’ is the first nasturtium variety that AAS has added to the list of winners in almost 100 years. This compact selection is a stunning rose color that is consistent throughout the season. Both the petals and leaves are edible. With its petite form, this ‘Baby Rose’ is well suited for containers.
• Petunia, Wave ‘Carmine Velour F1’
This is the newest color in the Wave series, with 2- to 2.5-inch flowers gracing this selection all summer long. The AAS was wowed by the color. ‘Carmine Velour F1’ is suited for landscape beds, containers and hanging baskets, and needs very little deadheading.
• Zinnia, ‘Queeny Lime Orange’
Although I included this variety last year, I am so dazzled by this 2018 selection when I viewed it in AAS trial gardens I knew that I wanted to include it again. If you are a zinnia grower, ‘Queeny Lime Orange’ is a must-have. Somewhat more understated that its cousins ‘Queen Lime’ and ‘Queen Red Lime,’ this prolific bloomer starts dark coral/orange with yellow and green undertones and fades to an attractive light peach bloom with a dark center. These mysterious shades of orange are different than most oranges usually seen in annual plants. ‘Queeny Lime Orange’ can last up to three weeks in a bouquet.
All-America Selection seeds can be purchased at many places that sell seeds by the packet or online via catalogs. For more information, see https://all-americaselections.org/.
Speaking of gardening, the Summit County Extension Master Gardener Volunteers will hold their annual Saturday Gardening Series March 2 and 9. For speaker descriptions and to register (deadline is Feb. 18) go to: www.summitmastergardeners.org/.
Jacqueline Kowalski is the Summit County Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Educator for the Ohio State University. For questions on local foods, food production or other garden-related questions, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-928-4769 ext. 2456.