Aside from this year’s four national flower winners, All-America Selections (AAS) has chosen three vegetable award winners – two national winners and one heartland regional winner. National awards are given to plants with consistently great performance across the United States. Regional winners showed outstanding performance within a specific section of the county.
All-America Selections is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to the testing and introduction of new flowers and vegetables varieties for the home gardener. Plants are trialed anonymously at sites across the country by volunteer horticulture professionals. Selection as an AAS Award winner recognizes a flower or vegetable for significant achievements, proven to be superior to all others on the market. Founded in 1932, this year AAS celebrates 90 years of introducing new varieties to the gardening market.
To see pictures of these and other great plants visit the All-America Selections website
National Winners Jalapeno pepper ‘San Joaquin’ is an indeterminant pepper which sets most of its fruit within a short time, giving one main flush of harvest. This is ideal if many peppers are needed for canning a large batch of salsa, for example. Fruits are traditional jalapeno shaped, 4-inches in length, have 2500-6000 Scoville heat units and can be harvested either green or red. There are approximately 50 fruits per plant.
Each compact plant reaches approximately 30-inches in height. Due to its compact habit, ‘San Joaquin’ can be grown in larger containers, allowing at least a 5-gallon root ball or larger.
Judges commented “Nice compact plant with heavy yields. Large fruit would make excellent stuffers.” “Loved this variety’s mild heat and large fruits that did not crack.”
Kabocha squash ‘Sweet Jade’ - Kabocha are a winter squash, usually round, tear-drop shaped or round but flattened on the top and bottom. Their flesh is orange, dense and starchy with a consistency and flavor similar to sweet potatoes. Sometimes they are called chestnut squash due to their nutty flavor.
‘Sweet Jade’ features small single-serving fruits squash; each is 1-2 pounds in size and can be used as a single-serving vegetable or as an edible soup bowl! Each squash has deep orange flesh with jade green striped skin. The vining plants grow 6 to 8-feet. Plant in full sun with well-drained soil. Available from Johnny’s Selected Seed.
Judges commented “Incredible taste! Doesn’t even need butter, salt, etc.” “This squash was outstanding in taste, texture and durability. "
Regional Heartland Winner
The heartland regional includes Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota. ‘Zenzei’ tomato performed very well in both the heartland and Great Lakes regions.
Tomato ‘Zenzei’ is an early-maturing and high-yielding Roma tomato. Its fleshy plum tomatoes are perfect for canning and freezing. Expect 30-50 oblong fruits per plant, each 4 to 5-inches long and about 3 to 8-ounces in size with a good Roma tomato flavor.
Plants are tall and bushy - about 72-inches tall - so will need support, but no pruning is needed. They are also indeterminate, with flowering and harvest occurring throughout summer.
One judge stated, “Very early and high-yielding, great color.” Another noted “Great plant for [a] smaller garden.”
Images - Credit all images to All-America Selections