All-America Selections worth checking out

We’ll ring in the new year with five flowers and three
vegetables having been declared All-America Selections award
winners for 2004. AAS is a nonprofit organization for evaluating
new seed-grown flowers and vegetables from around the world for
home garden performance. All of the 2004 award winners will be
available this coming garden season in seed or already-started
transplant form.
We’ll ring in the new year with five flowers and three vegetables having been declared All-America Selections award winners for 2004. AAS is a nonprofit organization for evaluating new seed-grown flowers and vegetables from around the world for home garden performance. All of the 2004 award winners will be available this coming garden season in seed or already-started transplant form.

This week I’ll be covering the three vegetable winners; next week, we’ll review the five flower winners. All the winners have been tested at independent test gardens throughout the country. Goldsmith Seeds in Gilroy is one such All-America Selections test site. More information can also be obtained at the AAS Web site www.all-americaselections.org. The site includes a retail locator section, which provides some of the retailers offering AAS winners.

“Sweet Beauty” watermelon – Nothing says summer like watermelon and, believe it or not, you can grow watermelon in our climate. Many South County gardeners don’t believe our summer weather is hot enough for watermelon, but these melons are classified as “early.” They will ripen within 80 days from sowing seed directly into the garden.

“Sweet Beauty” offers melons in the traditional oblong shape, and dark green skin with medium green stripes. Melons are 5 to 7 pounds, and are an “ice box” type. It was praised by AAS judges for its superior eating qualities. Judges maintained “Sweet Beauty” offered consistently sweet flavor and crisp texture.

“Amy” melon – This is a canary type melon, which is popular in South America, Spain and southern Mediterranean countries. Since our area is often compared to Mediterranean climates, “Amy” should fit in well here. The melons are so-named for their canary-yellow exterior. They turn bright golden yellow when ripe, with color being similar to a canary bird’s feathers. Melons are perfectly round at 2 to 3 pounds apiece, similar in size to cantaloupe melons. They are prized for their sweet, white, aromatic flesh.

“Amy” is also known as a gourmet melon. Melons are perfectly round and smooth, without netting or sutures. It proved to be earlier than other canary types and produced excellent yields of high quality melons. The radiant color indicates when the melon is ready for harvest, which is 70 to 80 days from transplanting. The vigorous, spreading vines need 6 feet of garden space or they can be trained up a trellis. You can hang individual fruit by using old pantyhose for support.

“Sunshine” winter squash – Consumer media have given coverage to winter squash because of its flavor, high vitamin content and ability to be stored. “Sunshine” is a new squash that outshined other varieties in side-by-side trials. The vibrant orange-red skin is distinctive, similar to sunshine, hence the name.

The 3- to 4-pound fruit is a flattened globe shape. The bright orange flesh is sweet, nutty, creamy smooth and completely stringless when baked, steamed or microwaved. “Sunshine” plants are adaptable to any growing location as they mature in 80 to 95 days (80 days from transplants or 95 days from sowing seed). Harvest ripe fruit in the fall prior to frost. The short vines need 6 to 8 feet in the full-sun garden.

All these All America Selections winners will be available at garden centers this spring and summer. Look for the red, white and blue AAS display signs. You can also buy seeds from large mail-order seed companies. Again, more information is available at the AAS Web site.

Remember, next week, I’ll review the rest of the AAS winners.

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