Start your vegetable garden planning with some special award winners

Looking for special varieties to plant in your vegetable garden? Consider these 2013 All-America Selections award winners.

As gardeners leaf through all the new catalogs looking for those special varieties that will make up their 2013 vegetable garden, there are some interesting award winners to consider. The All-America Selection Winners for 2013 include two melons and a cherry tomato.

Before discussing the winners, a little background on the All-America Selections (AAS) organization might be helpful. All-America Selections is an independent, non-profit organization that has been around since the 1930s. They receive seeds of new varieties from companies from around the world to test.  Plants are grown in display gardens located in geographically diverse areas all over the United States and Canada; many of these gardens are at universities. Judges visit each of the display gardens to evaluate the plants. They look for traits that would be desirable for the home gardener including earliness to bloom or harvest, interesting flavors, disease or pest tolerance, new or novel colors, interesting flower forms, yield, flowering length and overall performance. If a variety has displayed superior qualities during the trial period, it may be selected to receive the AAS award.

As mentioned earlier, three vegetables received awards for 2013. The first is ‘Harvest Moon’ F1, a seedless watermelon. It is similar and considered an improvement to the heirloom variety ’Moon & Stars.’ The vines are shorter (3 to 5 feet), so they will not take as much space in the garden. The flesh is pinkish red, crisp and sweet. The fruits are medium sized (18 to 20 pounds) and the rind is dark green and has spots like ‘Moon & Stars.’ This melon requires 80 to 100 days from transplant to harvest.

The second winner, also a melon, has a taste similar to honeydew with a bit of tanginess. ‘Melemon’ F1 is a Piel de Sapo melon and also a hybrid. The roughly 4-pound fruit requires 70 to 80 days from transplant to harvest and can be grown on a trellis. Fruit can be stored up to one month after harvest.

The final winner is a cherry tomato called ‘Jasper’ F1. Judges described Jasper as having a sweet, rich taste. The vines are so vigorous that little or no fertilization is required. This plant has good resistance or tolerance to Fusarium, early and late blights. The fruit size is 0.75 inches and is ready to harvest in about 60 days. Fruits also hold well on the plant without cracking. Since the plant grows to 24 inches, it is great for container culture.

Visit the All-America Selections website for additional information on these or other past award winners.

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