Jeff Rugg is the 2022 America’s National Team Vegetable Winner

Last week, we examined the flowers that won the 2022 All-America Selections Award, and this week, the eight new vegetable winners.

AAS is an independent, non-profit organization that tests new plants. They have about 80 test gardens from Alaska and Canada to California and Florida. They also have nearly 200 demonstration gardens across the continent that are not used for criticism, but serve to show gardeners how well plants grow locally.

Judges evaluate crops throughout the season, not just the end-of-season harvest. Only entries with the highest national average score will qualify for a national AAS award. Some plants perform better in hot, dry climates or cool, humid regions and would not receive a national award, so the country is divided into six regions where a plant can win one or more regional awards.

Vegetable plants are evaluated for desirable properties such as early flowering or harvesting, disease and pest tolerance, new flavors, full yield, harvest duration, and overall performance.

In everyone’s garden, most of the vegetables planted are tomatoes, this year we get three good new ones.

The Tomato Sunset Torch F1 plum-like fruit is 2 inches long and grows in clusters of half a dozen or larger. It doesn’t split as much as the other little tomatoes. Tomatoes are high in mosaic virus, verticillium wilting and fusarium, and moderately resistant to other diseases.

Tomato Purple Zebra F1 is also resistant to many common tomato diseases. It has 4 ounces of fruit, which are dark green and dark red stripes that are great for making beautiful BLT sandwiches.

For tomato growers in the Southeast and Midwest, Pink Delicious is a large, 11-fold beef tea-style tomato with very good disease resistance. The fruit of sweeter-than-usual fruits is larger and does not crack as much as normal pink tomatoes.

Watermelon-loving gardeners are familiar with the popular heritage variety, Moon and Stars. We now have a new seedless version called Century Star. It yields 10 pounds of fruit on long grapes. The fruit still has a dark green peel with yellow spots reminiscent of moons and stars. Inside, the meat is crispy, sweet and seedless.

There were two pepper winners this year, one sweet and one spicy. Dragonfly is a sweet bell pepper with 4-inch fruits that varies from green to purple to red. They taste great at any stage. Buffy’s 1-inch fruit has 500,000 Scoville units of heat. They occur abundantly on the plant and are above the leaves, giving the plant an ornate value for patio pots.

If you’re looking for white plants in your moonlit garden, you can try the new eggplant, Icicle. The bright white fruit is about 8 inches long and only one to two inches in diameter. The plant has fewer thorns than other aubergine varieties and is more resistant to insect damage.

Many squeeze salad back into the garden of spring salad bowls. Oak lettuce is a delicious and versatile edible that can be grown quickly and easily in the garden. It can be harvested in the condition of the baby leaf or grown to full size head. The new award-winning variety, the Bauer, is uniform, compact in size, can be grown in soil, container, window box or hydroponically.

E-mail your questions to Jeff Rugg at: [email protected] To learn more about Jeff Rugg and to read from other writers and cartoonists at Creators Syndicate, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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