Gardening: Start your spring planning with these prized plants

Image result for Gardening: Start your spring planning with these prized plantsNot all cucumbers — or watermelons, tomatoes or other garden treats — are created equal.

Some yield earlier or more heavily than others; some simply taste better; some are better at resisting disease.

In an effort to help home gardeners sort through the seemingly endless variety of seeds and plants that are available, the nonprofit group All America Selections seeks to identify the superior choices.

The first winners for 2020 have just been announced — and, boy, do they sound tempting. It’s too late in the season for Ohio gardeners to plant them this year, but you might want to reserve a spot in next year’s veggie garden for one or more of these mouth-watering champs.

As gardeners know, there’s no such thing as guaranteed success, but these winners can improve your odds.

“All-America Selections is an independent nonprofit organization that tests new, never-before-sold varieties for the home gardener,” the group says on its website. “After a full season of anonymous trialing by volunteer horticulture professionals, only the top garden performers are given the AAS Winner award designation for their superior performance.”

Here are profiles of the latest winners, expected to be available next spring as seeds and/or plants:

Cucumber

Green Light cucumber, a miniature variety, produces 3- to 4-inch fruits that don’t need to be peeled.

• Why it won: This selection boasts high yields (40 or more cucumbers per plant), attractive fruits that mature quickly and, perhaps most important, “superior eating quality.”

• Who should try it: Anyone who loves salads — traditional tossed, Greek salad, or mixed chopped veggies — would appreciate this new twist on the classic cucumber.

Watermelon

One Mambo watermelon plant yields three to four 11-pound fruits with sweet red flesh and dark-green rinds.

• Why it won: The judges found Mambo exceptionally easy to grow, with “high seed germination and vigorously healthy vines.”

• Who should grow it: If you’ve had trouble in the past getting watermelons to produce and ripen, this variety “will grow and yield well even in cool, cloudy conditions!”

Tomatoes

The three tomatoes that garnered honors all occupy their own niche but share a crucial trait: disease resistance, good news for gardeners who have struggled with weakened, infected plants.

• Celano, a grape tomato, stays small enough to grow in a large container. The judges praised its sweet flavor and resistance to late blight.

• Early Resilience, a Roma type, is “a home canner’s dream” with delicious fruits on healthy plants. It’s highly resistant to blossom-end rot, the nemesis of many a tomato grower.

• The 3-inch fruits of Galahad, which is resistant to late blight, boast “sweet, meaty flavor.”

Galahad, by the way, is the only newly announced winner limited to the West/Northwest and Heartland regions. (The Heartland region borders the Great Lakes region, which includes Ohio.)

All of the others in the story are national winners.

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