WSU CAHNRS

Washington State University Extension

Garden Tips

Kale RSS feed

NEW VEGETABLE VARIETIES JUDGED SUPERIOR

GARDEN TIPS – Written by Marianne C. Ophardt
WSU Extension Faculty
for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA Published February 7, 2016

From time to time I have written about the All-America Selections (AAS). These are new flower and vegetable varieties that have been judged by AAS to be the best performing new varieties for home gardeners. All-America Selections is an independent non-profit organization with the mission of “promoting new garden varieties with superior performance judged in impartial trials in North America.”

When gardeners start ordering seeds or plants they may see a variety that is “new and improved” or “better tasting,” but they have no way of knowing the truth of these claims. However, if a new variety is a national All America Selection (AAS) they can be assured that it is likely to perform well in their garden and offer something new or different than similar varieties currently available. In fact, not only must an AAS selection perform well in trials around North America, it must also “have at least two significantly improved qualities” over current varieties to be considered for selection.

While in the past flowers seemed to be the main focus of AAS selections, vegetables have been front and center in recent years. I suspect that is because many seed companies have been putting their energy into developing new and improved veggie varieties, the current focus of many home gardeners.

Let’s take a look at some of the new veggies winning the AAS designation for 2016. Since tomatoes are everyone’s favorites, I will begin with the two tomatoes that won the AAS award for this year. First is ‘Chef’s Choice Green F1.’ This is a modern hybrid that looks like an heirloom with large (9-10 oz.) beef-steak type fruit.

The fruit of Chef’s Choice Green F1 are very pretty with green and yellow-striping. The flesh has a sweet, citrusy taste and good texture. Existing varieties that it resembles are Aunt Ruby’s Green, an heirloom, and Fried Green F1. Other desirable characteristics of Chef’s Choice Green F1 include its “well-behaved” 5′ foot tall indeterminate vines and resistance to numerous diseases. Seed for this tomato can be purchased from Totally Tomatoes at http://www.totallytomato.com.

On the other end of the spectrum of fruit size is Candyland Red, a currant-type tomato with small .5″ red fruit. These little fruit are very sweet and richly flavored. Candyland Red resembles Sweet Pea and Matt’s Wild Cherry tomatoes but differs from other currant-type tomatoes because its growth is not as rampant, plus the fruit forms on the outside of the plant, making harvesting the tiny gems easier. While more compact in habit than similar varieties, these plants still grow 6-8′ tall and should be spaced 3′ apart with staking provided for support. Seed of Candyland Red is also available from Totally Tomatoes.

Other AAS 2016 vegetable selections include:
Pepitas F1 is a beautiful yellow-orange medium-sized pumpkin with green stripes, making it useful for fall decorating. In addition, its flesh can be baked and the naked or hulless seeds (pepitas) can be roasted and eaten. (Available in 2017.)

Prizm is a short kale (10-24″ tall) with bright green ruffled, curly leaves. The almost stemless leaves are tender with good flavor. The plants quickly re-leaf after harvesting. This kale is compact enough to be grown in containers and raised-beds. Remember kale is a cool-season plant and should be started early in the season. (Available in 2017.)

Look for these and the other 2016 and previous years’ AAS selections when buying your garden seed. They are varieties that should do well in your garden because they are “Tested Nationally and Proven Locally®,” All-America Selection’s tagline.

Photos from All America Selections are available at: http://all-americaselections.org/image_center/index.cfm

YOUNGER GARDENERS GROWING VEGETABLES

GARDEN TIPS – written by Marianne C. Ophardt
WSU Extension Faculty
for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA Written August 30, 2015

YOUNGER GARDENERS GROWING VEGETABLES

Having been at this job for over 30 years, I have seen gardening trends come and go. Way back in the 1980s there were numerous local gardeners interested in food gardening, growing both vegetables and tree fruit in their backyards. You could always find a large variety of vegetable transplants available at big box stores, as well as at local nurseries.

In the 1990s things started to change, fewer and fewer gardeners were interested in growing their own produceThe big box stores changed to offering fewer vegetable transplants, instead focusing primarily on colorful annual flowersI am not sure if this happened because gardeners realized that gardens and fruit tree were a lot of work, they had easy access to fresh produce from local farmers markets, their busy lives did not allow much time for gardening, or a combination of all these.

I am happy to say we have now come full circle and gardeners, especially younger gardeners under the age of 50, are interested in food gardening againThe focus is on veggies and herbsA survey taken by Today’s Garden Center indicates that these “youngsters” say gardening gives them a sense of accomplishment, allows them to become more self sufficient and have more control over the safety of their food, and provides a way to get children outside and teach them about nature. Wonderful!

Another thing to know about younger gardeners is their interest in food and cookingThere is a proliferation of television cooking shows that are enjoyed by both young adults and older folks like meBecause the All-America Selections (AAS) organization has noticed that cooking fresh foods is “trending,” they plan to market their 2016 winning herb and vegetable selections with five videos that demonstrate cooking techniques.

With the home garden focus back on vegetables, many of the big seed companies are strongly marketing their new vegetable varieties, especially ones with more compact growth habits that are easier to fit into the smaller gardens of today’s gardeners. These are a few that have already hit the market or will be arriving next year:

Basil ‘Docle Fresca’(parkseed.com) is an AAS 2015 winner that is a “new and better” compact Genovese basil plant with sweet tender leaves and growing only 10 to 14 inches tallIt is drought tolerant and a good container plant

Pea ‘Masterpiece’ (burpee.com)is a pea that Burpee calls a “triple treat” with edible tendrils, pods, and peasGrowing up to 30 inches tall and 32 inches wide, these pretty peas plants work well in containers and limited-space gardens

Kale ‘Simply Salad Kale Storm’ (burpee.com, plantworksnursery.com) is a mix of salad kales that are slow to boltThe seed combined into single pellets is a mix of different leaf textures and colorsNot only will this work well as fall cool-season crop for container growing, it will also serve as an attractive ornamental during the fall months

Tomato Heirloom Marriage Series (PanAmerican Seed) is a series of tomato hybrids that are the results of crosses between two heirloom varieties to create an F1 hybrid variety, “marrying” the best characteristics of each parent for improved performance in the gardenOne already available (along with others) is ‘Big Brandy’ whose parents are ‘Big Dwarf’ and ‘Brandywine’ Coming in 2016 is ‘Marzinera’, a cross between ‘San Marzano’(my new favorite tomato) and ‘Cream Sausage.’

Zucchini ‘Brice’ (no retail seller available ) is a zucchini that produces 3 to 4 inch light green round fruit on compact plants with attractive mottled leavesIt is more manageable than many zucchini and is great for container or limited-space gardeningThe fruit can be hollowed out for stuffingYummy!

This season isn’t even over yet and I am thinking about next year. Whoa!

Archives

Categories

Garden Tips, WSU Extension, Benton County, 5600-E West Canal Drive, Kennewick, WA 99336-1387, 509-735-3551, Contact Us

WSU Extension, Franklin County, 1016 North 4th Ave, Pasco, WA 99301-3706, 509-545-3511, Contact Us
© 2017 Washington State University | Accessibility | Policies | Copyright | Log in