Archive | July 2016

Time to Harvest Our Summer Bounty

Time to Harvest Our Summer Bounty

It’s the time of year we gardeners have been waiting for…harvesting and eating the fruits of our labor! But there are always questions: When exactly to harvest? What is the best way to pick that zucchini?  What if I harvest too early? Which veggies can I pick that will produce again?

Here are some tips on harvesting your produce and bonus recipes to put that garden bounty to delicious use.

Green Beans
Bean stems are easily broken. Don’t yank; pick every other day when the beans begin bearing to make sure that they produce to their full potential. Healthy plants will often rebloom and produce a second and third flush.
Mascotte Beans served with Tomatoes & Peppers Recipe
White Avalanche Beet
Beets can be harvested at any time often with the smaller ones being the most tender. With red beets, look for ones that are dark in color with a shiny coat. Cook the leaves as well as the roots — all parts of the plant are delicious.
Beet, Apple and Goat Cheese Salad Recipe
Cabbage Katarina
Harvest cabbage heads when they have formed tight, firm heads. Cut the stem below the head but do not pull the remaining plant. Smaller cabbage heads often develop near the base of harvested heads.
Garlic Roasted Cabbage Steaks Recipe
Carrot Purple Haze
Harvest carrots as soon as the roots show color. Carrots will take a frost and actually get sweeter with cooler fall weather. For a fall carrot crop, succession plant carrot seeds in midsummer.
Roasted Carrots with Chopped Mint Dressing Recipe
Eggplant Patio Baby
Harvest eggplants when the fruits reach full size, the skin is glossy, and the flesh firm. Press the skin gently with your thumb. If it bounces back without cracking, the fruits are ready to harvest.
Eggplant Fries Recipe
Squash Bosa Nova
Summer Squash
Start picking squash when the skin is shiny. In general, summer squash are most tender and flavorful when very young. It’s true: the more you harvest, the more you will get!
Squash Boat Recipe
Tomato Fantastico
The exact signs of ripeness vary with variety, but in general, perfectly ripe tomatoes show deep color yet still feel slightly firm. You can pick tomatoes a little green to ripen indoors, but the best flavor comes from ripening on the vine .
Italian Sweet and Sour Cherry Tomato Sauce Recipe
Squash Bosa Nova
You can judge a watermelon’s ripeness by its skin color. The watermelon rind changes from a bright to a dull green. The part that touches the soil shifts from greenish white or straw yellow to creamy yellow.
Watermelon and Peaches Dessert Recipe

AAS Introduces First Five Winners for the 2017 Garden Season

Posted with permission of the National Garden Bureau:


All-America Selections, the only trialing organization for plants that demonstrate great garden performance throughout North America, presents the first five AAS Winners for the 2017 garden season.

Each of the following award-winning varieties was trialed in North America by professional, independent judges during one growing season. Each AAS entry is trialed next to one or two comparison varieties that are considered best-in-class among those currently on the market. With a July announcement, these AAS Winners are available for immediate purchase from their respective breeders.

This first group of AAS Winners for 2017 includes:
Celosia Asian Garden             (National Winner)
Okra Red Kingdom F1            (National Winner)
Pea Patio Pride                      (Regional Winner)
Squash Honeybaby F1            (Regional Winner)
Watermelon Mini Love F1        (National Winner)

With this announcement, these varieties become available for immediate sale to the commercial and home garden markets. Links on each company name below the descriptions lead to the appropriate email address from which to order that variety. Brokers, growers, mail order and seed packet companies can purchase these varieties immediately. Retailers and consumers will find these AAS Winners for sale for the 2017 gardening season as supply becomes available throughout the chain of distribution. Garden communicators are free to begin writing about these varieties now to build anticipation for 2017 gardens. Each AAS Winner will be  marketed through an extensive Social Media and public relations campaign.

A complete list of trial grounds and the judges behind our awards can be found here.

A complete list of all AAS Display gardens can be found here. Display Gardens grow, label and display AAS Winners from the past five years.

A complete list of all AAS Winners since 1932 can be found here. Note that this list of AAS Winners can be sorted by Flowers from Seed, Flowers from Cuttings, and Vegetables.

Celosia Asian Garden (National Winner)

This spiked beauty claimed victory in North America’s trial sites to become the first ever AAS Winner from Japanese breeding company Murakami Seed. The judges gave this entry high marks in the greenhouse for the good branching, almost bushy growth habit and early-to-bloom flower spikes. In the garden, Asian Garden celosia continued to bloom on sturdy stems, keeping the bright pink color all summer long, holding up even through some of the first frosts of the season. The AAS Judges commented on the fact that this celosia was a pollinator-magnet, making this AAS Winner a sure bet for pollinator-friendly gardens.

Bred by Murakami Seed Co., Ltd.
(Click link for order contact)

Okra Red Kingdom F1 (National Winner) 

A unique red okra with pods that are round, not ribbed, and a brighter red color than the reddish burgundy okras currently available. This high-performing AAS Winner received high marks for productivity, taste, texture and tenderness as well as the ornamental value of red pods on red stems. One judge noted that Candle Fire okra was quite maintenance free to grow, except for the frequent harvesting, which is a great thing! Candle Fire thrives in the heat and is disease resistant even in hot humid climates like the south where it’s perfect for traditional fried okra.

Bred by Known-You Seed Co. Ltd
(Click link for order contact)

Pea Patio Pride (Regional Winner-Southeast) 

This compact beauty produces sweet, uniform pods that are very tender when harvested early. With only 40 days needed to maturity, Patio Pride can be one of your first spring harvests, or one of the last fall harvests from your Southeastern garden! This pea is wonderful when planted in containers and is ideal for succession planting yielding a consistent harvest over many weeks. Plant in patio containers with cool season flowers for a beautiful combination ornamental and edible display.  Direct seeding is recommended; seed 3-4 seeds every 6 inches then thin to one seedling every 6-8 inches.

Bred by Terra Organics
(Click link for order contact)

Squash Honeybaby F1 (Regional Winner-Heartland)

Honeybaby is a very productive variety of winter squash producing numerous fruits on a compact plant. These shorter vines grow 2-3 feet in a semi-bush habit showing great garden vigor which results in healthier plants that resisted powdery mildew later into the season, especially in the Southeast. Short, wide fruits are slightly larger, sweet and nutty and more meaty than similar comparison varieties. Honeybaby is delicious steamed, baked or made into soups and stews. Plant as soon as soil temperatures reach 65 degrees to ensure maturity in 90-100 days.

Bred by Seeds By Design
(Click link for order contact)

Watermelon Mini Love F1 (National Winner) 

This personal-sized Asian watermelon is perfect for smaller families and smaller gardens. Shorter vines (3-4’) still produce up to six fruits per plant and can be grown in smaller spaces. Several judges commented on the crack and split resistant rinds, important for reducing crop loss. For culinary purposes this deep red fleshed watermelon has a thin but strong rind that can be carved into attractive shapes for fruit salad presentations. Mini Love has a high sugar content resulting in sweet and crisp, juicy flesh that will be a true summer delight for watermelon lovers.

Bred by HM. Clause
(Click link for order contact)