An annual list of the best seed varieties takes the guess work out of what's the best pick for your garden, according to a local greenhouse manager.
The nonprofit organization All-America Selections, which conducts confidential and impartial trials of previously unsold seed varieties throughout the United States and Canada, has selected eight winners for its 2013 season.
"Those are selected because they're proven to do much better for the customer, and they go through a trial... and usually if it has that award, it's tried and true," said Lucille Martin of Martin's Piney Creek Greenhouse, Martinsburg. "And they're usually more floriferous, and they just do overall better than the average variety."
Photo courtesy of All-America Selections
One of the All-American Selections winners for 2013 is the Canna “Southwest Pacific Scarlet.”
The flower winners are: Canna "South Pacific Scarlet," Echinacea "Cheyenne Spirit," Geranium "Pinto Premium White to Rose," Zinnia "Profusion Double Deep Salmon" and Zinnia "Profusion Double Hot Cherry." The vegetable winners are: Melon "Melemon," Tomato "Jasper" and Watermelon "Harvest Moon."
The "South Pacific Scarlet" is an annual with a scarlet bloom that comes out in the summer, the All-America Selections website said. The "Cheyenne Spirit" is a perennial with blooms that come in red, pink, yellow, orange, purple and white. It blooms summer and fall. The "Pinto Premium White to Rose" is an annual with rose and white blooms. It blooms summer to frost. The "Profusion Double Deep Salmon" is an annual with salmon blooms that come out in late spring, summer and fall.
The "Profusion Double Hot Cherry" is an annual with blooms of rose color that also come out in late spring, summer and fall.
Tussey Mountain Mulch Landscape Center offers up suggestions to get your flowerbeds off to a good start in the spring.
1. Mulch. It reduces weeds and keeps moisture in the soil. Mulch also breaks down to provide nutrients to plants.
2. Prevent weeds. Spread Preen, a weed preventer, through flowerbeds before mulching.
3. Uncover roses. After tucking away roses with mulch in the fall, help them wake up by removing the mulch and spread it around the bush's base so it can fertilize the plant. Prune off any dead canes, making the cut just above a bud or branch to eliminate an excess of dead branch.
4. Trim dead foliage. Cutting away the dead foliage allows fresh greenery to be the star of the show.
5. Fertilize. Spring is an ideal time to fertilize trees and shrubs. Holly and azaleas prefer an acidic soil. Tree-tone is a medium rate fertilizer that most trees and shrubs appreciate. Spring is also a good time for applying Bonide Tree and Shrub Drench, which protects against insects for a year.
6. Prune. Cut broken branches just above a branch or bud.
7. Plant. For spring, stick with pansies because they will bear the frost. After chances of frost are gone, plant annuals and perennials or trees and shrubs.
-Tussey Mountain Mulch Landscape Center
The "Melemon" produces a "unique sweet-tart taste," the "Jasper" has a "sweet rich taste," and the "Harvest Moon," is "sweet and crisp," the website said.
The trial and selection process is lengthy, "taking about a year, if not longer for some classes," said Diane Blazek, All-America Selections executive director, in an email.
"As for why we do this every year, it's that the process was started over 80 years ago as a way to have an independent organization conduct plant trials in multiple climates to truly test how well each variety performs in various parts of the country," she said. "Our trialing process and resulting stamp of approval gives consumers much needed information on what will work in their garden, a process that not all varieties go through before becoming available at retail."
Martin said doing the annual selection is important, "simply because people are looking for tried and true variety. There's so much new stuff out there... it's new, but it's not proven."
People look for the label, she said.
"It takes a lot of the guessing out of buying," she said.
On the Web: www.all-americaselections.org
Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030.