University of Vermont Extension 
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Winter/Spring News Article

Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont

Each year, the best of the new seed-grown vegetables are chosen as winners by the All-America Selections (AAS) program after trialing across North America.  They must represent either a totally new variety, or one improved in some way over an existing one.  There are three winning vegetables for 2013, including a melon, watermelon, and tomato.  All three are F1 hybrids, meaning they are bred from particular parents.  This cross results in vigor and traits of both, and means that you’ll need these parents to get the same selection.  Sowing seeds produced by these hybrids won’t give you the same plant.
‘Melemon’ melon was chosen as an AAS winner for its superior taste to comparable melons, early fruiting, and high yields.  The taste is described as like a honeydew melon, only with a pleasant tanginess.  It is similar to ‘Lambkin’ and ‘Kermit’ melons.   It is a “piel de sapo” type of melon, which translates to “toad skin.”  This refers to the green skin with lighter blotches. Sometimes you may see this melon type called a “Santa Claus melon.” 
Fruit are fairly uniform in size and a small “personal” size, about 6 inches across and 4 pounds or slightly more.  The green rind turns lighter (chartreuse) when ripe, and flesh inside is beautiful white.  Figure on about 3 months from sowing seeds to first harvest, sowing in the north about 4 weeks (mid- to late-April) before the last frost date, in peat pots.  Keep seedlings warm, and after planting outside cover with hot-caps or similar to protect on cool nights.  Figure on a garden spacing of between one and two feet apart.
‘Harvest Moon’ hybrid watermelon is similar to the heirloom ‘Moon and Stars’ (available in both red and yellow), only it produces healthier and shorter vines, is seedless, ripens earlier, has higher yields, and has a better taste.  The medium-sized fruits have a green rind with yellow spots, and flesh inside that is sweet and pink-red.  Fruit are just over a foot long, weighing 18 to 20 pounds. 
Sow inside in peat pots 2 to 3 weeks before planting out in the north, and keep the soil warm (85 to 90 degrees F).  About 4 to 5 fruit will be produced per plant, about 3 months from sowing seeds.  Figure on a plant spread, and garden spacing between plants, of 3 to 5 feet. 
Not only is this plant a hybrid, it is a “triploid,” meaning that it has three times the amount of genetic material in cells.  This is what makes it seedless, but also means you’ll need another selection for pollination and so fruiting.  If you sow all the seeds in the packet, you’ll get this other selection that has been mixed in.  Otherwise, you’ll want to plant a standard watermelon selection too, with similar flowering and maturity times, using one standard plant for each 2 to 3 of  ‘Harvest Moon’ or other seedless triploid watermelon.
‘Jasper’ tomato is a new cherry type bred by Johnny’s Seeds in Maine, and listed in their catalog.  It is similar to ‘Suncherry’, ‘Juliet’, or ‘Sweet Baby Girl’.  In addition to vigor, a great taste, fruit ripening over a long period, and uniform fruits, it has resistance to several diseases—early blight, late blight, and fusarium.  The deep red fruits are rounded, about 3/4-inch wide, borne in small clusters (“trusses”) with hundreds of fruit produced per plant. 
Figure on about 90 days from sowing seeds to first harvest, starting indoors 5 to 6 weeks before planting outside.  Don’t plant outside until night temperatures are above 45 degrees (F).  Frost damages plants, and cool temperatures may result in purplish leaves from poor uptake of phosphorus, similar to all tomatoes.  Space plants one to two feet apart and stake, as they are vining (“indeterminate”) and will reach over two feet tall. 
As many new selections may not be available from your local greenhouse or garden retailer, you may need to start them yourself from seeds.  Also, since these selections are brand new, you may not be able to find them easily for a year or two.  Visit the All-America Selections website ( to learn about past winning vegetables, many of which are readily available in seed catalogs and store seed displays in spring.

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