Sarah Browning: New award winners are really fresh vegetables | Home & Garden

Sarah Browning: New award winners are really fresh vegetables | Home & Garden

A couple weeks ago we discussed this year’s All-America Selections flower winners. This week we’ll take a look at the seven vegetable award winners – six national winners and one regional winner. To see pictures of these and other great plants visit the All-America Selection website, 

National winners

Eggplant “Icicle” features pure white, cylindrical fruits which are each about 7 inches long. Fruits maintain their white color without yellowing, as do many other white-fruited eggplant cultivars. At 48 inches in height, plants are taller than many eggplants; their height is well-suited to carry these longer fruits up off the soil. Icicle plants are also very sturdy and upright, with fewer prickles than most eggplants making harvesting less painful!

Judges commented, “The plant was sturdy and remained upright despite heavy fruit load.” And “I hope that this variety becomes available in the home garden market as it would be my first choice in eggplant varieties.” Unfortunately, Icicle is not currently available from any garden seed distributors, so we may have to wait until 2023 to try this great new cultivar.

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Lettuce “Bauer”’ is an oakleaf lettuce cultivar with a beautiful darker green color and uniformly compact plant growth, making it a great choice for growing almost anywhere, including containers, window boxes, ground beds or even in hydroponic systems. Greens can be harvested in the baby leaf stage or allowed to grow to full size. Leaves have a nice flavor with a crunchy leaf texture. Sources, see below Nos. 3, 4 and 6.

One judge noted, “High quality and high yielding lettuce with dark color, dense heads and sweet crisp leaves.”

Pepper “Buffy” is a  fiery little tabasco-type hot pepper with juicy thick-walled fruits which pack some heat! At maturity the peppers are red, slightly triangular in shape and about 1.5 inches long, with 500,000 Scoville heat units. Plants reach approximately 28 inches in height with dark green foliage. They are very high yielding, 250 to 280 fruits per plant. With this heavy fruit load, plants may require staking or a cage to hold them upright. Available from source No. 7.


The “Buffy” Pepper is about 1.5 inches long and plants can yield 250 to 280 fruits each. And they’re hot, registering 500,000 Scoville heat units.

Judge comments included, “Excellent flavor. Crazy heat. Attractive plant. No diseases. All around a delight.” And “You can actually separate the flesh from the septum and seeds allow(ing) you to control the level of heat allowed into your culinary activities.”

Pepper “Dragonfly” offers beautiful dark purple bell pepper fruits with thicker walls than the thin-walled purples currently on the market. Fruits start off green, ripen to deep purple and eventually become bright red, but they can be harvested at any stage. Fruits are 3.5 inches in length and offer a robust pepper flavor. Plants are 24 to 36 inches tall and yield about 40 peppers per plant. Available from source No. 2.

Pepper “Quickfire” is a Thai-pepper type, with upright cone-shaped red fruits reaching 40,000 Scoville heat units. Plants are compact at only 6 inches in mature height, but they are prolific fruit producers. Unfortunately, Quickfire is not currently available from any garden seed distributors, so we may have to wait until 2023 to try this great new cultivar.

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Tomato “Purple Zebra” is a colorful addition to the striped tomato group. Each 3 to 4 ounce fruit is dark red with green stripes on the outside and deep mahogany on the inside. They have thinner skin and better taste – sweet and acidic, leaning toward sweet – than comparable cultivars. Pretty and tasty on the plate, with great disease resistance! Would make a great tomato to grow for a farmers market. Available from source Nos. 1 and 6.

Judges commented, “The entry fruit was beautiful inside and out. They were orangy-red with green stripes and when cut diagonally the interior was an especially attractive, juicy red.” And “Flavor is rich, deep-bodied, almost dessert-like. Could go with vanilla ice cream. Very unique.”

Regional Heartland winner

Tomato “Pink Delicious” has an heirloom look, flavor and meaty texture, but modern hybrid disease resistance and improved germination when grown from seed. When compared to similar beefsteak tomato cultivars currently in the garden market, Pink Delicious has earlier maturing fruits, higher yield and a very uniform fruit size, along with a nicely balanced flavor between acidic and sweet. Plants are large, reaching 6 feet, so staking is required.


The “Pink Delicious” Tomato looks like an heirloom fruit, but it comes with modern hybrid disease resistance.

Judges noted, “Excellent disease resistance! Good flavor and texture!” Pink Delicious is not currently available, but watch for it next year.

Seeds of “Bauer” lettuce, “Buffy” and “Dragonfly” pepper, and “Purple Zebra” tomato are available this year. Sources for each seed are listed individually above. Why not try one of these great new cultivars in your garden this summer?

1. A.P. Whaley Seed,

2. Harris Seeds,

3. Johnny’s Selected Seeds,

4. Osborne Seed,

5. Park Seed,

6. Territorial Seeds,

7. Totally Tomatoes,

Sarah Browning: Make way for the winter harvest

Sarah Browning is an extension educator with Nebraska Extension. To ask a question or reach her, call 402-441-7180 or write to her at [email protected] or 444 Cherrycreek Road, Lincoln, NE 68528.