New plant materials
According to the All-American Selection Winners website, “AAS is the only national, nonprofit plant trialing organization in North America. All-America Selections is an independent nonprofit organization that tests new, never-before-sold varieties for the home gardener. 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.”
There is all sorts of information regarding new plant material that is sold for gardeners throughout the U.S. We have to make decisions to figure out if plant material will grow in our area in a reliable way. We shouldn’t always depend on the growers for this information and if you are informed, you will have a greater chance of having a great growing season. The All-American Selection Winners works with new plant material to test new, unsold cultivars. All-American Selections is a nonprofit group that works in the interest of gardeners.
If you go to the AAS website https://all-americaselections.org/ you will find information on all sorts of plant materials. For the purpose of this column, we will focus on the recommendations of these same plants that have been reviewed by the U of M Extension for vegetables that you can grow in containers. If you are in need of some beautiful pictures of landscapes, this website for that alone, is worth visiting.
The U of M Extension is inviting everyone to try their hand on growing container vegetable gardens. This past fall, I went through training called Vegetables for Everyone, which discusses growing vegetables in containers for those who are in apartments or using raised beds or for those who might want to raise a little bit of vegetables but maybe doesn’t have the time or space to raise vegetables otherwise.
It is quite possible to grow all sorts of vegetables in containers. There are some great bag like containers that you can use to raise potatoes. You can use a trash can with holes punched into the bottom. You can get quite creative with whatever container that you might have available just as long as you provide some sort of good drainage in the container and good soil. If you don’t have access to soil, potting soil that is available in any of our local stores works well too.
Since we have a little time before we can really get going on gardening– last day of frost is May 15 — you can look for the following varieties that are recommended from the U of M Extension that are All-American Winners for vegetable container gardening. If you are trying to get your kids to eat more vegetables, have them raise a pizza garden complete with a tomato plant, herbs and peppers. You can use your imagination here too. Please note that all of these vegetables should have a container that is at least 3 gallons. There are a few that it would work better to grow them alone in a container but if you need to, you can probably group some of these together.
Sweetie Pie Pepper is a miniature sweet bell pepper and is a very compact plant. Winter Honeybaby Squash produces compact orange fruit and is similar to butternut. This plant will produce a vine that is about 2-3 feet so it should be located in an area for it to spread out or you will need a trellis for it in the container. I would raise this one in its own container. Flaming Jade Pepper is a serrano type pepper that has a good upright form. Hot Sunset Pepper is a spicy wax banana type pepper that also has a great compact growing form. Sweet Sunset Pepper is also a banana type pepper with a good compact growing form. Pick a Bushel Cucumber is a compact bush type cucumber with vines that grow about 2 feet. Since this one grows in a vine form, it would be best to grow this in its own container. And last, but not least, Mountain Merit Tomato is a winner for the container garden since it is a good compact grower, has tomatoes that are big enough to slice and also has good disease resistance. You can grow other vegetables in containers too such as spinach, lettuce, radishes and so forth as well.
For more information on becoming a Master Gardener, please go to the following website for more information: https://extension.umn.edu/master-gardener/about-master-gardener. The Lyon County Master Gardeners are in need of volunteers. If you are interested, you can “volunteer shadow” our Master Gardeners to see what kind of volunteer opportunities are available. If you have questions about gardening, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Michigan Extension