Last week, we looked at the flowers that won 2021 All-America Selections (AAS) awards, and this week, we look at the three new vegetable winners.
The AAS is an independent, nonprofit organization that tests new plants. They have about 80 test gardens from Alaska and Canada to California and Florida. They also have almost 200 display gardens all across the continent that are used not for judging but to show gardeners how well the plants grow locally.
The judges evaluate the plants all season long, not just at end-of-season harvest. Only the entries with the highest nationwide average score are considered to be worthy of a national AAS Award. Some plants will do better in a hot, dry climate or a cool, humid region and wouldn’t win a national award, so the country is divided into six regions where a plant might win one or more regional awards.
The vegetable plants are evaluated for desirable qualities such as earliness to bloom or harvest, disease and pest tolerance, novel flavors, total yield, the length of harvest, and overall performance.
Echalion Creme Brulee is the first-ever shallot to win the AAS designation. Echalions are known as “banana” shallots. They are a cross between a regular shallot and an onion. Banana shallots have many of the best qualities from each parent vegetable, including the larger size of an onion and the milder flavor of a shallot.
Creme Brulee doesn’t have the typical cloves of shallots or garlic. The 4- to 5-inch single-centered bulbs have a pink outer skin and a rosy-purple interior with thick rings. It is a regional winner for the Great Lakes, Southeast, and West/Northwest.
Growing shallots from seed is unexpectedly easy. They can be started indoors and transplanted outside to harvest in about 3 months. They can be grown in full sun in the garden or in pots.
Pot-a-peno is a new jalapeño pepper that matures early. Leave the fruit on the vine a few extra weeks and they will ripen to red for a sweet, spicy flavor. The 3- to 4-inch fruit hang down beneath the plant, making it very easy to harvest without damaging the productivity of the plant. This pepper is a regional winner in the Great Lakes and West/Northwest.
Like other peppers, it needs full sun and warm temperatures. The plants only grow a foot tall and are very good for containers, hanging baskets, and small gardens. In the garden, they can be planted just a foot apart for a big harvest.
Goldilocks is a national winner acorn squash. It ripens to a bright orange, so many people will think they are looking at a pumpkin. It has a high yield and very good powdery mildew tolerance. It is a compact grower with a spread of only about four feet. The fruit weighs about a pound and can be harvested in less than three months after planting the seeds in the garden.
Check the All-America Selections website for current and past winner information. You can’t go wrong planting AAS winners in your garden. Seeds for the winners are available in many catalogs and stores. Plants ready for transplanting are available at many garden centers at the appropriate time for planting in your area.
Email questions to Jeff Rugg at email@example.com. To find out more about Jeff Rugg and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at Creators.com. Copyright 2020 Jeff Rugg. Distributed by Creators Syndicate.