University of Vermont Extension 
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Winter News Article


Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont

The goal of many vegetable breeders is to win the All-America Selections award for their introductions.  This means a new plant has been observed in trial gardens across North America, and proven in the majority of sites to be either new, or an improvement over existing similar varieties.  This year there are three such new vegetables.

The All-America Selections recommend the dwarf Fairy Tale eggplant for small spaces or containers about ten to twelve inches across.  Only getting about a foot and a half high, with about a two foot spread, Fairy Tale is ideal for the increasingly popular container gardens such as on a sunny patio or deck.

Not only are the fruit sweet, beginning early and produced in waves through the summer, but are quite ornamental.  Fruit may first appear about 50 days from sowing.  About two inches at the shoulder, and to six inches long, fruit are lavender purple with white stripes running lengthwise. "Baby" eggplants about four inches long are tender, almost seedless, and non-bitter.  They can be cut from the plant, sliced lengthwise, and grilled without peeling.  Or the fruit can be used in casseroles, stir fry dishes, baked,broiled, or as a pizza topping.

Bonbon is an improved buttercup-type winter squash.  Similar to other squash of this type, it has deep green skin with silver stripes, and a gray button on the bottom.  Bonbon though has shorter vines than most others, so fits well in smaller gardens.  It is vigorous, adapts well to various soil types and conditions, and of course has delicious fruit.

The sweet fruit of Bonbon have thick, dark orange flesh that can be cooked many ways but result in stringless squash.  It also stores well, so can be enjoyed through fall and into winter.  The name “winter squash” actually refers to this fact, as it will not tolerate frost so not grow in winter.

As with other squash, its roots don't like to be disturbed, so keep this in mind when planting in spring.  Ideal is to start in peat or similar earth-friendly and biodegradable containers.  From sowing to harvest takes about 3 months, so in the north it is best to start seeds indoors in such containers.  Don't sow too early though, as it should only be planted out when soil temperatures have warmed (70 degrees F is ideal).

There are many cherry-type tomatoes on the market, but what sets Sugary apart is that it resists fruit cracking better than comparable varieties.  The rose-pink fruit are oval with a pointed blossom end, and are produced in clusters like grapes.  Of course as its name indicates, the fruit are high in sugar (9.5 percent), so make a sweet snack.  Vigorous vines set fruit continuously once begun, which is about about 80 days from sowing.  Plants may grow to six feet high, and two or three feet across, so are most easily grown in cages without pruning.

Plants of these new varieties might be found early in the season at complete greenhouses and garden stores, but often such All-America selections may need to be started at home from seeds.  Usually seeds of these winners, and other new varieties, can be found at these complete garden outlets, or ordered online or from mail-order catalogs.

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