7 AAS winning cucumber & eggplant varieties for indoor production

Features - Fresh Look

It’s a growing segment in both the greenhouse and CEA worlds: cucumbers and eggplants grown off-season and indoors under pristine conditions. Check out some of these winners from All-America Selections.

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Photos courtesy of All-America Selections.

Pick a Bushel F1

This 2014 Regional All-America Selections (AAS) Winner is great for northern areas because it is early to set fruit, offers a prolific quantity of fruit and is a compact bush-type cucumber spreading only about 24 inches (good candidate for greenhouse/indoor). Pick a Bushel offers a sweeter-tasting, light-green cucumber with a nice firm texture, perfect for pickling when harvested early. Fruits left on the bush-type vines longer can get up to 6 inches long and can be enjoyed fresh in salads.

Parisian Gherkin F1

Parisian Gherkin F1 is an excellent mini or gherkin pickling cucumber which can be picked either at the midget size or small pickle stage and processed. The numerous black spined cucumbers can also be enjoyed fresh in salads and slaws. The crisp cucumbers have a sweet flavor and process into pickles well. The semi-vining plants can be planted in staked containers, and plants grow and produce quickly. Parisian Gherkin is one of two organic AAS Winners, and is a very easy-to-grow, disease-resistant variety well adapted to container gardens (viable for indoor production).

Green Light F1

This 2020 AAS Edible-Vegetable winner is an excellent mini cucumber, said many of the AAS Judges. The yield was higher than the comparison varieties, with more attractive fruit, earlier maturity and superior eating quality. Grow Green Light on stakes or poles for a productive, easy-to-harvest vertical garden that will yield 40 or more spineless fruits per plant. Pick the fruits when they’re small, between three and four inches long; succession plantings will ensure a summer-long harvest. Fun fact: This cucumber is parthenocarpic, meaning it is a seedless mini cucumber that does not need pollination, so indoor and greenhouse growing are both on the table.

Icicle F1

This cylindrical white eggplant earned the prestigious 2022 Edible-Vegetable AAS award for several reasons. The Icicle plant has fewer spines than most eggplants, making for a less painful harvest. With larger fruits than other white eggplants, it produces a nice yield while also providing fewer seeds. The large, durable and vigorous plants hold up to insect damage and the environment.

Patio Baby F1

This 2014 AAS Edible-Vegetable winner is an early and highly productive eggplant with a compact habit, making it a great choice for containers or indoor production systems. Deep purple, egg-shaped fruit should be harvested at baby size — 2 to 3 inches — and are delicious roasted or in dips and salads. Thornless leaves and calyxes allow for painless harvesting and plants will continue to produce fruit throughout the entire season.

Fairy Tale F1

This 2005 Edible-Vegetable AAS winner is a petite plant with decorative miniature eggplants. The fruit appearance is as luscious as the taste. Fairy Tale eggplants are white with violet/purple stripes. The fruit is sweet, non-bitter, with a tender skin and few seeds. Another superior quality is the window for harvest. The elongated oval eggplants can be picked when quite small at one to two ounces or they can be left on the plant until double the weight, and the flavor and tenderness remain. The harvest can begin in just 49 to 51 days from transplanting, and the petite plant reaches only 2½ feet tall and wide, perfect for indoor container production.

Hansel F1

This 2008 Edible-Vegetable AAS category winner has stood the test of time. Many eggplant disadvantages have been bred out of Hansel. Take seeds, for example. They interfere with chewability and texture. Young Hansel eggplants have very few seeds. Another advantage is the harvest window (55 days to maturity). Growers can harvest the finger-like clusters of fruit when three inches in length. If the fruit stays on the plant until about 10 inches, they remain tender and sweet. This trait offers gardeners a long harvest time for Hansel. The plant size is small, no taller than 3 feet, which is perfect for container growing under glass or indoors.