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The Greener View: AAS Vegetable Winners

Jeff Rugg on

Last week, we looked at the flowering-plant winners of the 2018 All-America Selections testing program. This week, we have the vegetable winners. There are three peppers, three tomatoes, one Chinese cabbage and one sweet corn.

When you see the red, white and blue logo of All-America Selections on seed packets or in catalogs, you can expect the plant to do well in your garden. Even AAS winners from several years ago are more likely to prove successful than nonwinners. Vegetables are judged for such traits as earliness to harvest, total yield, fruit taste, fruit quality, ease of harvest, plant habit, and disease and pest resistance. The judges evaluate the vegetables all season long, not just at end-of-season harvest.

Americans love sweet corn. We eat it on the cob, grilled, roasted, canned and frozen. The AAS winner American Dream can be grown at home and then eaten in all of those ways. The kernels are bicolored on full cobs. The plants grow 6 to 7 feet tall and mature in only 77 days after planting by seed. If you love sweet corn, you should try the American Dream.

As much as we love sweet corn, almost all American vegetable gardens have tomatoes and peppers. One of the three new tomato varieties will fit your desires.

Chef's Choice Red produces globe-shaped, tomato-red beefsteak-type tomatoes. It has a firm flesh that has just the right balance of acid to sugar. AAS judges raved about the 8-ounce fruits' prolific yield from the strong 5-foot indeterminate vines. It is a disease-resistant plant with well-behaved form and dark-green leaves.

Red Racer is a cocktail tomato. Cocktail tomatoes are smaller, although they are larger than cherry or grape tomatoes. The compact determinate plants produce a yield all at once that can then be changed out for a fall planting of a different crop. They can be used in small spaces and container gardens, and they are available in both organic and conventional seeds.

Many grape tomatoes end up being mushy, but Valentine F1 has a firm flesh that resembles a Roma tomato. This is a very sweet tomato that holds on the vine without cracking for much longer than other grape tomatoes. It is an indeterminate type that produces all season long, starting a short 55 days after transplant to the garden.

I like peppers but not the really hot ones. If you are like me, the three new AAS winners are appealing. The early maturing Red Ember F1 cayenne pepper is described as spicy and tastier than traditional cayenne peppers, with just the right amount pungency.

Mexican Sunrise Hungarian F1 peppers are described as semi-hot. They are very attractive and can be used as an ornamental. The fruit are 6 to 7 inches long and change from lime green to yellow, to orange and, finely, to red.

My new favorite hot pepper is a habanero -- one of the hottest of the hot peppers. The reason I like it is because it is not hot! Roulette F1 looks like a traditional habanero in every way, but it doesn't have any heat. Just be careful to not plant it where there are hot habanero peppers so you don't mix them up and eat a hot one.

Last but not least, we have Asian Delight F1 Pak Choi (or bok choy). It is a Chinese cabbage that does not bolt like other varieties. Asian Delight forms small to midsize (5- to 7-inch) heads that have a tasty, tender white rib and dark-green textured leaves.

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Email questions to Jeff Rugg at info@greenerview.com. To find out more about Jeff Rugg and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

 

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