All-America Selections (AAS) has been trialing edible and ornamental plants for over 90 years, presenting awards to entries that will impress home gardeners with their performance regionally or nationally. There have been plenty of exciting new winners that merit a place in your garden that will be highlighted in this series.
AAS Winners are grown and planted at nearly 200 Display Gardens all over the US and Canada, including nine gardens in Iowa. To see these winners and more, check out www.all-americaselections.org and search under the Display Gardens tab. For a sneak peek at potential future winners, plan a visit to Reiman Gardens, an All-America Selections Trial Garden.
One of the questions I hear when working in the AAS trial beds is “What do you do with all of this produce?” The answer is a nationwide program called Plant A Row for the Hungry. Volunteers collect and distribute fresh produce from local gardeners and farmers to pantries and social service providers to ensure that folks who are food insecure have access to fresh food. Reiman Gardens hosts a collection site for donations going to Story County and on August 7, we collected over 1,300 lbs. of produce to support our communities! RG staff and volunteers harvested over 190 lbs. from our AAS garden alone! Of course, summer squash, cucumbers, and tomatoes are the top three donations by weight so far; here are a few great AAS Winners you could donate to your food pantry.
Cucurbita pepo ‘Bossa Nova’: If you’re going to have a multitude of zucchini, they should be tasty AND beautiful! ‘Bossa Nova’ is mildly sweet and nutty and produce 6-8” fruits. Zucchinis ripen early and the plants produce weeks after the comparisons. This plant also shows good resistance to mosaic viruses and the foliage is just as attractive as the fruits with a mottled variegation.
Cucumis sativus ‘Green Light’: I’m not big on cucumbers, but I do make an exception for a mini cuke. ‘Green Light’ is so easy to grow and because it’s spineless, easy to harvest! Judges were impressed with yield (approximately 40 fruits per plant), taste, and texture. This cucumber is parthenocarpic, which means it doesn’t need pollination to produce; perfect for urban settings where pollinators may not be as numerous.
Solanum lycopersicum ‘Pink Delicious’: It’s no secret at this point, my favorite tomatoes have heirloom look and flavor, but hybrid genetics for improved foliar disease resistance and better field fruit holding. ‘Pink Delicious’ is a fantastic producer, pumping out 8-10 ounce tomatoes through mid-fall that show less cracking than other big slicers. Some pink tomatoes can have a mild flavor, but ‘Pink Delicious’ is sweet with excellent texture. This tomato is sure to be your new favorite on sandwiches or just sprinkled with S&P!
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