THE ALL-AMERICA VEGETABLE SELECTIONS
Extension Nursery and Greenhouse Crops Specialist
University of Vermont
When filling out your seed orders this
winter, you may want to include some of the new vegetable
varieties for 2002. This year five vegetables–two
pumpkins, a winter squash, a slicing cucumber, and a
sweet basil–were chosen as All-America Selections (AAS)
These varieties, along with hundreds of
others, were grown in test gardens all over the country.
Throughout the growing season, horticultural experts
took notes on how well each did, especially compared
to similar varieties on the market. Those that were
judged superior, or exhibited significant improvements
over existing varieties, were named AAS winners for
Both pumpkins that made the list this
year were bred as Halloween pumpkins. The first, Pumpkin
‘Orange Smoothie,’ is ideal for children as it weighs
only four to seven pounds and has a sturdy stem for
carrying. Its smooth skin makes it well suited for
painting although it is easy to carve and can be used
as either an outdoor or indoor decoration.
This six-inch pumpkin is medium to dark
orange in color. Its compact growth habit makes it
perfect for small gardens. Although seeds can be sown
directly in the garden, northern New England gardeners
will have better results by planting seeds indoors in
small pots, then transplanting once all danger of frost
has passed. Allow about four to four and one-half
feet between plants.
Pumpkin ‘Sorcerer’ weighs in at 15 to
22 pounds. This large, dark orange pumpkin can be
carved or painted as a jack-o-lantern or used for pies.
One of the reasons it was selected as a 2002 AAS winner
is because it requires less space to grow than other
full-size pumpkins, making it an ideal choice for a
Like ‘Orange Smoothie,’ it should be started
indoors a few weeks before the last frost date. Plant
six to eight feet apart in the garden. Pumpkins mature
in 100 days from time of sowing.
Winter Squash ‘Cornell’s Bush Delicata’
is the first delicata-type squash with a semi-bush
habit. It is an ornamental winter squash, white to
cream in color with colorful green stripes and flecks
and a hard rind. Fruits, which mature in 85 to 100
days, are about seven to nine inches long, three to
four inches wide, and can weigh up to two pounds. In
northern climates seeds should be started indoors.
The judges were impressed with its strong
tolerance to powdery mildew, high potential yield,
long storage life, and sweet, nutty flavor. Although
a delicious winter squash for the table, it also can
be used as a seasonal decoration.
Cucumber ‘Diva’ is a smooth-skinned, semi-glossy
cucumber with an exceptional flavor. It is sweet–not
bitter like many cucumbers–crunchy, and seedless making
it a good snack, especially for children.
This high yielding plant, which should
be started from seed indoors, produces an abundance
of four-inch fruit in about 55 to 60 days. The vines
can be trained to grow up a trellis, saving space in
the garden and making it easier to harvest the fruit.
‘Diva’ has shown strong tolerance to powdery and downy
mildew, two diseases that often strike cucumbers, and
will continue to produce even at the end of the growing
Basil ‘Magical Michael’ is an ornamental,
edible herb with a uniform plant habit. Unlike most
sweet basils, which are variable in plant shape and
height, this one was bred for uniformity. Although
grown for its rich, aromatic flavor, its dark green
foliage and tiny purple flowers (inflorescences) make
it an attractive and fragrant addition to the garden.
Plants grow to about 15 inches. Leaves
are ready to harvest in 50 to 60 days, the inflorescences
for salad or entrée garnishes around 80 days. ‘Magical
Michael’ can be started from seed or purchased as plants
from many garden centers.
To learn more about these AAS winners
and the eight flowers that earned this designation for
2002, visit the AAS Website at www.all-americaselections.org