Dr. Leonard Perry, Horticulture Professor Emeritus
University of Vermont
Each year the best of the new annual flowers and vegetables are judged nationwide, and the winners are given the All-America Selections (AAS) designation. To be an AAS winner, plants must show improvements over any similar existing cultivars (cultivated varieties). This year’s seven vegetable winners include a melon, watermelon, sweet pepper, potato, and five tomatoes. Similar to most vegetables, these grow best in full sun (at least six to eight hours direct sun per day), and a well-drained soil (preferably one with lots of organic matter, such as compost).
Orange Silver Wave is an exotic melon, bred in South Korea but
which has rated well in trials in this country. It has five-inch,
oval fruits (up to six per plant) that have very sweet orange
flesh on the inside, and unique skin color of light green and
yellow with darker green markings. Whether grown in the ground or
in a container, a heavy-duty trellis is suggested to keep fruits
and plants off the ground, meaning less disease. In the garden,
space plants two feet apart and figure on about 75 days to harvest
from sowing seeds, or 45 days from planting small plants
Cal Sweet Bush is a compact watermelon, with bushy vines less
than two feet long. Yet it still can produce two or three fruits
in the garden, or usually one fruit if grown in a container.
Fruits are round to oval, a foot or less across, and 10 to 12
pounds. The rind is dark green and mottled, the flesh is bright
red. In the garden, space plants just over one foot apart and
figure on about 90 days from sowing to harvest, or 65 days from
planting transplants which you started earlier in small peat pots or containers.
Just Sweet is a sweet pepper with shiny and rich yellow,
elongated fruits. They are about three inches long, and with four
lobes like a bell pepper, only smaller. Even though plants can
reach three feet high, they are bred to be sturdy, so shouldn’t
need staking. With plants being upright, only spreading about 15
inches wide, you can space them this distance apart. This makes
them good for containers, in addition to gardens. Since it needs
about 120 days from sowing to harvest, in colder climates you may
want to start them from transplants. These take about 75 days
from planting out to harvest.
Clancy is the first potato, grown from seeds, to be chosen an AAS
winner. Potatoes are red to rose on the outside, and creamy white
to yellow on the inside. The texture is between yellow-skinned
and russet potatoes, making it great for mashing or boiling.
Fruit are round to oblong, four to five inches long and three to
four ounces in weight. Plant them in containers, or one foot
apart in the garden, figuring at least three months from setting
Chef’s Choice Black is the sixth in this Chef’s Choice series, a
beefsteak type tomato with a mottled outside color of dark red and
dark green, and inside flesh color of deep crimson. The juicy
flesh is reported to have a nice, slightly salty flavor. Plants
are vining (indeterminate) to about five feet long, so you’ll need
to stake them. A good season, site, and climate may result in 30
or more of the eight-ounce fruits (five to six inches across) per
plant. Space plants about two feet apart in the garden, and
figure on about 95 days from sowing seeds to first harvest, or
about 75 days from planting transplants.
Red Torch is a tomato with small, striped and oblong red
fruit—about one and a half inch long, and under two-ounce weight
each. It is relatively early fruiting, needing about 70 days from
transplanting. The recommendation is to start this one indoors
and grow in small pots, sowing about six weeks before planting
outside after the last frost. Space plants about two feet apart in
the garden. The indeterminate plants, growing five or more feet
high, will need staking.
Fire Fly is a new cherry-type tomato, with pale yellow fruits
smaller than a cherry tomato but larger than a currant
tomato—about one inch across and weighing only about one-half
ounce. Fruits are juicy and super sweet, with a mild acidity.
You should stake or cage the indeterminate plants, which can reach
five to six feet high and produce up to 500 or more fruits per
plant! Space plants about two feet apart in the garden, and
figure on about 100 days to first harvest from sowing seeds, or 80
days from planting transplants.
Sparky is a cherry tomato with round, red fruits striped yellow,
about one inch across and one ounce in weight. They’re flavorful
and sweet, relatively early to mature (about 70 days from
transplanting), and prolific (often 60 or more fruits per plant).
The indeterminate plants reach five to six feet high, so need
caging or staking. Space them about two feet apart in gardens
and, if sowing seeds direct to the garden, figure on about 100
days to first harvest.
Mountain Rouge is a new pink addition to the “Mountain” tomato
series, resistant to several diseases including late blight. The
beefsteak tomatoes weigh 12 to 14 ounces, on indeterminate plants
four to six feet high. They are said to have an heirloom flavor,
a good mix of sugar and acidity. Plants begin producing in just
73 days from transplanting out young plants, two feet apart, and
grow well in cool climates.
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