Last week, we looked at the flowers that won the 2022 All-America Selections awards, and this week, we look at the eight new vegetable winners.
The AAS is an independent, nonprofit organization that tests new plants. They have about 80 test gardens from Alaska and Canada to California and Florida. They also have almost 200 display gardens all across the continent that aren’t used for judging but are used to show gardeners how well the plants grow locally.
The judges evaluate the plants all season long, not just an end-of-season harvest. Only the entries with the highest nationwide average score are considered to be worthy of a national AAS Award. Some plants will do better in a hot, dry climate or a cool, humid region and wouldn’t win a national award, so the country is divided into six regions where a plant might win one or more regional awards.
The vegetable plants are evaluated for desirable qualities such as earliness to bloom or harvest, disease and pest tolerance, novel flavors, total yield, length of harvest, and overall performance.
The most planted vegetable in everyone’s garden is the tomato, and this year, we get three good new ones.
Tomato Sunset Torch F1 has a plum-style fruit that’s 2 inches long, borne in clusters of a half dozen or more. It doesn’t split as much as other small tomatoes. It has high resistance to tomato mosaic virus, verticillium wilt, and fusarium, and moderate resistance to other diseases.
Tomato Purple Zebra F1 also is resistant to many common tomato diseases. It has 4-ounce fruit that are striped dark green and dark red that are excellent for making pretty BLT sandwiches.
For tomato growers in the Southeast and Midwest, Pink Delicious is a large, 11-once, beefsteak-style tomato that has very good disease resistance. It has a higher yield of sweeter-than-usual fruit that doesn’t crack as much as normal pink tomatoes.
Gardeners who love watermelons know the popular heirloom variety, Moon and Stars. Now, we have a new seedless version called Century Star; it yields 10-pound fruits on long vines. The fruit still has the dark green skin with yellow spots resembling moons and stars. Inside, the flesh is crisp, sweet, and seedless.
There were two pepper winners this year, one sweet and one hot. Dragonfly is a sweet bell pepper with 4-inch fruit that goes from green to purple to red. They taste great at any stage. Buffy has 1-inch fruit that has a 500,000 Scoville unit heat. They are abundant on the plant and held above the leaves, giving the plant an ornamental value for patio containers.
If you are looking for white plants to grow in your moonlight garden, you could try the new eggplant called Icicle. The bright white fruit is about 8 inches long and only an inch or two in diameter. The plant has fewer spines than other eggplant varieties and it is more resistant to insect damage.
Many people relegate lettuce to springtime salad bowl gardens. Oakleaf lettuce is a delicious and versatile edible that is fast and easy to grow in the garden. It can be harvested at the baby leaf stage or grown into a full-size head. The new award-winning variety, Bauer, has a uniform, compact size that can be grown in the ground, containers, window boxes, or hydroponically.