University of Vermont
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Winter News Article


Dr. Leonard Perry, Horticulture Professor
University of Vermont

Each year the best of the new annual flowers and vegetables are judged nationwide, and the winners 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 vegetable winners include a mustard, onion, two sweet peppers, a pumpkin, radish, two tomatoes, and even a strawberry. 
In the past, the winners were only those that were deemed worthy across most of North America.  While there are still these “national” winners, there are now regional winners as well—those performing best in a particular region.  This doesn’t mean that they won’t grow and produce acceptably in other regions too.
Japanese Red Kingdom mustard was a national winner, being an F1 hybrid (a cross of two specific parents).  It is the first mizuna type, or Japanese, mustard AAS winner, and has attractive reddish-purple leaves in addition.  It has higher yields than some other mizunas, is less likely to “bolt” (make flower stalks), has a mild flavorful taste, and the leaves make it good too as an ornamental.  It only needs three to five weeks from sowing until harvest.  Mizuna greens are used in Asian cooking, such as stir fry, or in hot dishes such as to flavor potatoes.
Bunching Warrior onion is a bunching or green scallion type, good grilled or to add texture and flavor to salads and many kinds of recipes.  It is reported to last longer, if left in the ground, than other similar onions.  This is a regional winner, needing about 60 days from sowing until harvest.  If sowing seeds indoors, figure on about a month to harvest from transplanting.

Cornito Giallo is a sweet Italian frying pepper, a cone or horn shape, and bright yellow when left to mature.  From transplanting outside, figure on about 75 days to harvesting.  It is prolific, and can have two dozen or more fruits per plant.  Judges reported this national winning pepper to have an outstanding flavor either raw, cooked, or fire-roasted. 
Escamillo is another sweet frying horned-type pepper and, like the other winning pepper, is a national winner, an F1 hybrid, and bred by Johnny’s Seeds of Maine.  Its fruits, when mature, are a golden yellow.  Figure on about the same time to harvest as the other pepper, and similar uses.
Super Moon pumpkin is an F1 hybrid and regional winner.  As you might guess from its name, it is white when mature-- the first white pumpkin to be an AAS winner.  Fruits can get large—up to 50 pounds—although they are usually 25 to 30 pounds.  The plant is disease resistant.  Figure on about 90 days to harvest from sowing seeds.
Sweet Baby radish, too, is an F1 hybrid and regional winner.  Fruits (roots) are an elongated egg shape (“obovate”).  On the outside they mature purplish, and on the inside mostly white with purple streaks.  Their taste is described as crispy, crunchy, and slightly spicy.  Days to harvest from sowing seeds is 40 to 45 days.  Make successive sowings every two to three weeks if you want to harvest through the season. 
Candyland Red tomato is a national winner, and the only currant-type winner ever.  This type has smaller fruits than cherry tomatoes. Fruit are dark red and sweet, maturing about 95 days from sowing seeds, or about 55 days from transplanting seedling plants that you started indoors about six weeks earlier.  Fruit are only about one-half inch wide and weight about one-quarter ounce.  Vines are indeterminate (keep growing from the tips) so can reach five feet or more, and need suitable staking.  This makes them more suited to ground beds than containers.
Chef’s Choice is a green tomato, a national winner, and another F1 hybrid.  Fruit are green with subtle yellow stripes, and flavor described as citrusy.  The beefstake type fruit get 6 to 7 inches wide, and can weigh 9 to 10 ounces.  It too is indeterminate so needs staking.
Strawberry Delizz is an F1 hybrid, so is grown from seeds unlike most strawberries you buy as plant offshoots.  This is a national winner, and the first strawberry AAS winner, coming from a gourmet strawberry breeding firm in Holland.  Being compact, these strawberry plants are good in containers and hanging baskets, as well as in ground beds.  Being a day-neutral type (length of day doesn’t affect their fruiting), they’ll fruit through the season.  In the north, start plants indoors a month or more before planting outside, as they need 120 days to harvest from sowing seeds, or about 60 days from transplanting outside. 
You can find more All-America Selections winners, information on them, and sources, from their website (  If you’re unsure what to grow in your garden this season, or want to try some new crops or varieties, these are a good place to start.  Many won’t be available as plants locally, so plan to order seeds and enjoy sowing and growing them yourself.

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