All-America Selections for 2014

All-America Selections
Additional Winners 

DOWNERS GROVE, IL – January 28, 2014

Just in time for the 2014 gardening season, All-America Selections (AAS) is pleased to present eight more AAS Winners that proved themselves to be superior garden performers. With the addition of these eight winners, we have a grand total of nineteen winners for the 2014 gardening season, the most AAS Winners announced in one year since the first winners were announced in our first decade of existence in the 30’s and 40’s.

Both growers and retailers will want to offer the following National and Regional Winners to fulfill customer requests.

The four newest Regional Winners are:
Cucumber Saladmore Bush F1
Eggplant Patio Baby F1
Pepper Giant Ristra F1
Radish Rivoli

The four newest National Winners are:
Angelonia Serenita™ Pink F1
Impatiens, New Guinea Florific™ Sweet Orange F1
Ornamental Pepper NuMex Easter
Osteospermum Akila(R) Daisy White F1

A seed source list for those wishing to purchase recent AAS Winner seeds can be found here:  (Please allow several weeks for seed sources of the AAS Winners in this announcement to appear.) 
A complete list of trial grounds and judges can be found here:

A list of all AAS Winners since 1932 can be found here and is now sortable by National or Regional Winners.
Cucumber Saladmore Bush F1
AAS Regional Edible Winner

Saladmore Cucumber boasts a bush-type growth habit making this AAS Winner perfect for growing in container gardens. Anyone looking for a good slicing type cucumber with dark green skin and long straight fruits will enjoy this beauty, along with its superior taste and texture; a perfect reflection of summer’s bounty. An added bonus is the disease resistance that proved to be especially valuable in warmer climates where comparison varieties easily succumbed to late season diseases.

Bred by Seeds By Design
Eggplant Patio Baby F1
AAS Regional Edible Winner 

Two things judge after judge brought up about this eggplant: 1) This entry produced such an attractive plant that it could be used as both an ornamental and an edible and 2) It is a perfect plant for container gardens. Patio Baby is indeed compact at less than 24” mature height, and yet it produces a prolific number of small 2-3” teardrop shaped glossy purple-black fruits. And of course, taste is a top priority in the AAS Trials and judges agreed that the taste was excellent, noting it was less bitter than the comparison varieties. Several northern judges were extremely pleased that Patio Baby grew so well in their conditions and was earlier to harvest by about a week, which is important when the gardening season is shorter.

Bred by PanAmerican Seed
Pepper Giant Ristra F1
AAS Regional Edible Winner 

Talk about versatility! Giant Ristra looks like a red Marconi pepper but has the heat of a cayenne. The texture and heat (hot, but not too hot) of this pepper makes it an excellent eating variety while it can also be dried and used in dishes for up to one year. Should you choose to use the peppers for a decoration, they can be used to make a beautiful ristra of dried peppers. 
In the mountain and southern trial gardens, Ristra produced an exceptionally high yield of uniformly shaped peppers on attractive plants which judges reported were very easy to grow.
Bred by Seeds By Design
Radish Rivoli
AAS Regional Edible Winner 
(Southeast, Heartland, West/Northwest)

Rivoli earned the judges’ favor by producing a very large, uniformly-sized root with a bright red exterior and an exceptionally smooth, clear white interior. Unique to most radishes, Rivoli holds well and does not get pithy or woody, even under stress. All these attributes combined mean a tasty, sweet, crisp radish that also matures earlier than the comparisons. A helpful tip from the AAS judges is to space Rivoli further apart than normal radishes since roots are much larger.
Bred by North Carolina State University, produced by Bejo Seeds
Angelonia Serenita Pink F1
AAS National Flower Winner

Serenita is a compact, tough little angelonia ideal for very hot/humid temperatures like in southern areas but it does great in northern gardens too. This Serenita variety features a unique deep pink flower, not usually seen in angelonias. The AAS Judges praised this entry for being drought and heat-tolerant while continuing to produce a large number of flowers all season long.

Commercial growers should note that this is a new color for the Serenita series that require fewer PGRs to produce plants that are 2” shorter in the greenhouse, and can be up to 5” shorter in the garden.
Bred by PanAmerican Seed
Impatiens New Guinea Florific Sweet Orange F1
AAS National Bedding Plant Winner

Huge 2” blooms in beautiful shades of light orange against dark green foliage create a giant impact in the garden, especially in shade or semi-shaded areas where color is needed. The natural disease tolerance of a New Guinea Impatiens is a welcome addition to a plant that boasts such beautiful flowers on a compact plant perfect for small space gardens.

Commercial growers now have an alternative to vegetative New Guinea Impatiens and one that needs fewer PGRs to keep this beauty compact and tidy.

Bred by Syngenta Flowers
Ornamental Pepper NuMex Easter
AAS National Bedding Plant Winner

You know the AAS judges were impressed when the scores sheets read like this: “Exceptional plant. Love this little pepper! Striking color! Eye-catching! So easy to grow! Loaded with pepper fruits in fun colors. A favorite of garden visitors!” NuMex Easter is a very compact plant, growing to only 6” high but packs quite a punch in such a small package. Beautiful purple, yellow and orange conical fruits pop up above the foliage for a great display of color.

Commercial growers will appreciate the shorter crop time for NuMex which results in earlier blooms on a very compact, well-branched and uniform plant with fantastic fruit coloration. Judges familiar with the bedding plant market think this is the first real ornamental pepper for bedding plant growers.
Bred by The Chili Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University
Osteospermum Akila(R) Daisy White  F1
AAS National Bedding Plant Winner

White osteospermums are not unique but a clear white osteo with a yellow center is a novelty, plus, it’s easily grown from seed. Akila® Daisy White is a tidy, uniform plant with open flowers that produces non-stop blooms all summer long. Even southern judges praised Akila’s ability to keep blooming in the heat and they also showed more drought tolerance than other osteos.

Daisy White is part of the Akila series and boasts the same great greenhouse performance as the other colors in the series, none of which need pinching or vernalization.
Bred by PanAmerican Seed
Other recently announced AAS Winners:

National Winners:                                                                    Regional Winners:

Petunia African Sunset F1                    Sunflower Suntastic Yellow with Black Center
Pepper Mama Mia Gaillo F1                                          Cucumber Pick-A-Bushel F1
Tomato Chef's Choice Orange F1                             Penstemon Arabesque Red F1
Tomato Fantastico F1                                           Pumpkin Cinderella's Carriage F1
Gaura Sparkle White                                                         Tomato Mountain Merit F1
Bean Mascotte
Zinnia Profusion Double Hot Cherry
Zinnia Profusion Double Deep Salmon 


Renees Garden Seed Helps Kids Gardens

A few of the 500 kids in one of their 3 gardens at school.

Kids gardening is important! When kids learn how to grow plants, learn where their food comes from and how to prepare healthy meals, they learn skills that will stay with them for their entire life. I've written about the amazing kids' garden project at the magnet school in Jonesboro, Arkansas, several times before. (Click here to see an earlier post and more photos). And here for the story about cooking with the kids in their amazing kitchen. But I thought you might like a reminder that this project is always struggling to find enough money for seed, soil and other supplies the kids need.

Learning to weed and identify the edible plants.
For 3 years we've had a button on our website, "Buy Seed, Help Kids." It's a project whereby you can order garden seed from Reneesgarden.com, for your own garden, and Renee Shepherd generously donates 25% of the revenue from your order, back to the school! It's a wonderful project. Unfortunately we only raise about $25 a year for the school. I don't know if people don't find the link, or don't want to order seed, but if you go to our website, LongCreekHerbs.com; here's the button you will see on the left side:

The lower left corner on our home page has the Help Children-Buy Seeds button. When you click on that, you are directed to a page with a code to enter when you place your order at Renee's Garden Seed You can order seed for your spring garden and when you order, it will count toward a donation for the kids' garden project, and you will receive outstanding seed.

Renee Shepherd, owner reneesgarden.com
Renee Shepherd donates to a wide variety of children's garden projects, both in the United States and in other countries. That's why we are so pleased to partner with her in helping this garden in Jonesboro, Arkansas. If you have not visited her website, please do so, her seed selections are outstanding and I grow many in my gardens each season.

To visit Renee's Garden website, go to our website at Long Creek Herbs, and click on the Help Children- Seeds button.  You'll find the link to Renee's Seeds website, look around and see if you aren't tempted by her spring seed offerings. Then when you order, use our code (it's in the instructions you'll see), so that she can make a donation to this wonderful project. Then, you will know that more kids, like this boy, below, can experience for the first time in their life, the taste and smell of a chive blossom and learn how to fix a meal using fresh herbs and vegetables right out of the garden.

I'll be visiting the school again this week with friends from Bear Creek Farm. We'll work with the kids on taking rosemary cuttings and making rosemary cookies and I'll be posting more about that in a few days. I hope you'll consider ordering seed from Renee Shepherd, she has outstanding varieties you won't find anywhere else. And when you order, won't you do it through my website so the kids get credit? Thank you!
It's exciting to see kids learn about herbs and vegetables. This was his first ever smell and taste of a chive blossom!


Dream Pillows and PTSD

As an author it has been gratifying to me over the past 16 years since this book came out, to see how Making Herbal Dream Pillows has influenced others. I have seen my formulas copied, reproduced, even plagiarized several times, while also bringing joy to others.

One of my readers who purchased my dream pillows kits told me how she takes my Kit for 50 to a nearby nursing home and uses it as an activity for the residents. “The residents love the fragrances of the herbs and flowers,” she said, “and the staff loves having me there because the residents all sleep so well that night.”

Another reader of my book, and customer of my bulk dream pillow blends, told me she had been hired by a pharmaceutical company. She is paid to go to their conferences where she sets up a booth and offers the attendees complimentary dream pillows, allowing them to choose between Restful Sleep, Pleasant Dreams, Romantic or Creative blends. (I wish I had thought of that; but of course I'm very glad for her).
Kit for 50 provides everything needed to make 50 dream pillows.

The most gratifying for me, however, is the lady who read my book and learned about how I had first learned my Restful Sleep formula from a pharmacist many years ago. I had blogged about how helpful that dream blend was for Vietnam Veterans who have flash-back nightmares and PTSD. She began making and giving away dream pillows to soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq and reports great results. Recently she expanded the program, making it a non-profit organization, the American Heroes Sleep Project, in order to reach more returning soldiers and Veterans.
Restful Sleep pillow, 5 x 5 inches.

Her project now has its own website: americanheroessleepproject.org‎, and visitors to the site can purchase dream pillows (also known as sleep pillows) for themselves and a returning soldier who suffers from PTSD, as well.

To read more, my dream pillows blog is: jimsdreampillows.blogspot.com and my dream blends and dream pillows are on my website: LongCreekHerbs.com

Bulk dream blends and supplies.

Valentine's Day is coming up and dream pillows make excellent Valentines, too.


Life and Flowers in the Winter Garden

Copyright 2014 Jim Long
People who don't garden regularly often think that once frost or a freeze hits, the garden is over and done. While that is true of many vegetable crops, there are a good many herbs that just keep on growing throughout the winter. Even though we've had 9 degrees a few times, 8 inches of snow and a bit of ice, you can see by the photos that follow, the garden is alive and well in January.
Comfrey, a valuable healing herb keeps its leaves for much of the winter months.
Yarrow, known for its amazing blood-stopping, wound healing properties looks festive covered with frost.
Henbit, weed to some, healthy greens herb for others, lacy with frost.
Garden sage looks dressed up when covered with heavy frost. The flavor is as good in winter as it is in summer.
If you think mint tastes cool and refreshing in summer, just taste it when it's frozen and edged with frost!
Frost flowers only "blossom" when the ground temperature is warmer than the air.
Moisture from the ground is forced upward through plant stems as the air temperature drops, creating fanciful frost flowers.
So delicate you can barely touch them, they disappear at the first kiss of sunlight.
So you see, there is lots of life in the garden in winter. Go out and look, and don't be afraid to taste the herbs, either. Happy New Year to all!