In late fall each year, vegetable and flower seed breeders from all over the world send seed samples of new (not previously sold) vegetable and flower varieties to All-America Selections, an organization in California.
These seed, of about 80 new vegetables and flowers each year, are sent to trial gardens across the United States and Canada, where they are grown and judged by experts. The winners are announced as the All-America Selections for the coming gardening season. Each of these winners is rated as the best in its class.
All award winners are not adapted to all gardens. Some may mature too late for short seasons or cool areas, or may not perform well because of extreme heat, humidity or dryness.
For 1979 winners are six vegetables and six flowers, seeds of which will be available for purchase at many local garden centers and from mail-order seed companies.
The award-winning vegetables are cucumber, kohirabi, pepper, snap pea and two kinds of squash; the flower winners were nicotiana, pansy, ornamental pepper, two zinnias and a marigold.
Saladin Hybrid cucumber comes from Europe where exceptional flavor is a must. They make good eating fresh or pickled. Seeds develop slowly in the cucumbers and are hardly noticeable until fruits become large.
Grand Duke Hybrid Kohlrabi is ready for harvest only 45 to 50 days after planting. The swollen, blue-green stems are round and easy to peel for eating fresh, or cooked like turnips.
Sweet Yellow Dutch Treat pepper bears conical fruit held erect in clusters at the tip of the plant, is perfect for growing in containers and is compact and productive.
Sugar Snap snap pea is a new variety of edible podded or snow pea with mature pods that are round in cross section, with fleshy walls.
Sweet Mama Hybrid squash bears fruit that store well, are dark green, drumshaped, and average 2 to 3 pounds in weight.
Early Butternut Hybrid squash is ready to harvest only 85 to 95 days from planting. Fruit will store for several months if handled carefully. The fruit has a light flavor and frim texture that is perfect for baking or pureed for pies and soups.
Nicki-Red Bybrid nicotiana is a solid red, day-blooming, compact nicotiana for flowering tobacco which develops about a dozen short spikes per upright 18 to 24 inch high plant.
Orange Prince Hybrid pansy has large flowered apricot-orange flowers with round, full, slightlyruffled blossoms, 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter.
Holidy Cheer oramental pepper is a low flat-topped, dark green plant with small leaves reaching to 6 to 9 inches in height covered with loads of marblesized round peppers. These become splashed with purple, then turn scarlet red. If you like very hot peppers, these are for you.
Gold Sun Hybrid zinnia is a true giant zinnia, with blossoms of 4 1/2 to 5 inches in diameter but shorter and less rangy than old-style giant zinnias. Golden yellow flowers are on stems long enough to use for cut flowers and strong enough to withstand wind and rain.
Peter Pan Gold Hybrid zinnia has light gold blooms of 3 to 3 1/2 inches in diameter on plants 12 to 14 inches high at maturity. New branches cover the old blossoms, keeping the plants constantly fresh looking.
Queen Sophia marigold has dark bronzy red blossoms which mature to reddish-gold in the dwarf fresh marigold class. Plants grow to a uniform height of 10 to 12 inches at maturity and round out to perfect mounds sheathed with 2 to 2 1/2 inch blossoms.