AAS Winners for 2009
Now that Christmas is past, it’s time to tackle that huge stack of seed catalogs and start thinking about what flowers and vegetables you are going to grow this coming year. If you want something that is almost guaranteed to be successful, choose an All-America Selections winner. There are only four AAS winners for 2009. You can read about them in this article...
All-America Selections has announced their winners for 2009, with one bedding plants and three vegetables. Look for the red, white and blue logo of All-America Selections on seed packets in retail stores, plant tags in bedding plants in garden centers or nurseries, or in mail-order catalogs this spring. Success is almost guaranteed with these varieties of reliable new flower and vegetable varieties.
The non-profit All-America Selections (AAS) organization was founded in 1932 to foster the development, production and distribution of new and better horticultural and agricultural varieties, species, strains and kinds in and for North America. AAS winners are superior new annual flower and vegetable plants recognized for significant achievements – a promise of gardening success. Only the very best varieties receive this prestigious award. All AAS winners have been tested for home garden performance in more than 30 independent test sites, each under the responsibility of an AAS judge, all over the United States and Canada. Gardeners can rely on AAS Winners to perform in their garden because of these unbiased, independent tests. Most of the time only one to three flower varieties and the same number of vegetables get this award each year, and sometimes none qualifies. Once again, this year has a very small class of winners.
The four AAS winners for 2009 are:
AAS Bedding Plant Award Winner: Viola 'Rain Blue and Purple'
Unique qualities: Creeping habit, flower color changes naturally from purple/white to purple/blue
This variety creates a spreading pool of cool blue colors. The plants are cold and heat tolerant resulting in flowers throughout the seasons. Viola ‘Rain Blue and Purple’ will bloom in the south during fall and winter; in the north in the spring and summer. There is always a season of bloom for ‘Rain Blue and Purple.’ Another appealing trait is that the one and a half inch blooms change color from purple and white to purple and blue as they mature. Few flowers change colors naturally and ‘Rain Blue and Purple’ is one of them. The plants spread 10 to 14 inches in the garden or container. The trailing habit is perfectly designed for hanging baskets or patio urns. ‘Rain Blue and Purple’ was bred by Tokita Seed Co. Ltd., Saitama, Japan. Seed and plants of this AAS® Winner will be available from your favorite retailer.
AAS Vegetable Award Winner: Eggplant ‘Gretel’
Unique qualities: Earliest white eggplant, non-bitter fruit, tender skin, few seeds
Fruit size: Clustering fruit can be harvested at 3 inches or longer
Fruit shape: Elongated-teardrop
Color: Glossy white fruit
Plant height: 3 feet tall
Plant width: 3 feet wide
Plant habit: Small compact plant adaptable to containers
Garden spacing: 2 feet apart
Length of time from transplanting to harvest: 55 days
Closest comparison(s) on market: ‘Little Fingers,’ ‘Fairy Tale,’ ‘Snowy’
The earliest white eggplant perfectly describes ‘Gretel.’ Any gardener will agree, the earlier the better; since waiting for the best tasting, most nutritious food from our gardens is not easy. The glossy white mini-fruit are produced in clusters and can be harvested in 55 days depending upon growing conditions. Like all eggplants, ‘Gretel’ will grow rapidly under warm temperatures, over 55 degrees day and night temperature. The pure white fruit are sweet with tender skin even if they mature beyond the ideal fruit size of 3 to 4 inches. This trait means gardeners have a longer timeline to harvest fruit. ‘Gretel’ plants are relatively small, about 3 feet wide and tall. Since the plant is small it is adaptable to the popular trend of growing edibles in containers. It is recommended to use a rather large container about 16 inches deep. This AAS® Winner was bred by Seminis Vegetable Seeds, Oxnard, CA.
[For the storybook garden, plant with last year's AAS winner purple eggplant 'Hansel']
AAS Vegetable Award Winner: Melon ‘Lambkin’ :
Unique qualities: Sweet aromatic white juicy flesh, early maturity, stores well
Fruit size: 2 to 4 pounds
Fruit shape: Oval
Color: Light yellow skin with green mottling, white flesh
Plant height: 9 3/4 inches
Plant habit: Vigorous vines spreading 6 feet or more
Garden spacing: Rows 6 feet apart
Length of time from transplanting to harvest: 65 to 75 days
Closest comparison(s) on market: ‘Aladdin,’ ‘Saporosa’
The most important trait of this melon is the flavor. This is the reason to invest your time to grow ‘Lambkin’ in your garden. The oval shaped melon weighs between 2 and 4 pounds with a thin rind surrounding sweet, aromatic, white, juicy flesh. Another advantage is the earliness. Most other gourmet melons of this type mature much later than the 65 to 75 days of ‘Lambkin.’ Because of the early harvest, the vigorous vines can produce more melons. This results in more melons to share with close friends. It is classified as a Piel de Sapo melon a. k. a. Christmas type. The yellow melon skin with green mottling is unique and named, Piel de Sapo. As a Christmas melon, ‘Lambkin’ can be stored longer than other melons. They should be stored in a cool place such as a refrigerator. ‘Lambkin’ was bred by Known-You Seed Co. Ltd., Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Seed and plants of ‘Lambkin’ will be available in retail stores.
AAS Vegetable Award Winner: Squash ‘Honeybear'
Unique qualities: Exceptional eating quality, powdery mildew tolerance
Fruit size: 1 pound
Fruit shape: Round to slightly oval with rounded blossom end and shallow ribbing
Color: Dark green
Plant height: 2 to 3 feet tall
Plant width: 4 to 5 feet spread
Plant habit: Bushy compact plant
Garden spacing: 2 feet by 6 feet
Length of time from sowing seed to harvest: 100 days
Closest comparison(s) on market: ‘Table Ace,’ ‘Table Queen,’ ‘Autumn Delight’
‘Honey Bear’ acorn squash was bred to be baked and served in the half shell. The honey in ‘Honey Bear’ refers to the sweet squash flavor when cooked. In addition to flavor, there are three outstanding qualities; the compact plant, high yield, and tolerance to powdery mildew. The bushy, compact plant will reach 2 to 3 feet tall and spread 4 to 5 feet without vines. The dark green acorn squash weighs about a pound, which is a perfect size for sharing between two people. The plant produces 3 to 5 fruit per bush. The yield is high due to the powdery mildew tolerance. At the end of the season many acorn squash plants succumb to the mildew and fruit on the plant never matures. ‘Honey Bear’ continues to bear fruit throughout the growing season. From sowing seed in the garden until the harvest of the first squash will be about 100 days. ‘Honey Bear’ was bred at the University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH.
There are many more AAS winners from previous years that still deserve a place in the garden. The Annual Manual lists many of the winners from the last 65 years, and most seed catalogs indicate which of their selections are winners