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Advice & More October 2016

The Midnight Gardener

Great Veggies for 2017

By Lori Rose

The AAS mission is "to promote new garden seed varieties with superior garden performance judged in impartial trials in North America." I am growing these new varieties this year because, although they are short in stature, they are heavy on harvest and big on flavor.

It's that time of year again. The 2017 winners of the coveted All-America Selections Vegetable Award that recognizes only the tastiest, easiest to grow vegetables have been announced. The AAS mission is "to promote new garden seed varieties with superior garden performance judged in impartial trials in North America." I am growing these new varieties this year because, although they are short in stature, they are heavy on harvest and big on flavor.

Pea “Patio Pride” only needs 40 days to maturity, making it perfect for succession plantings. Sow the seeds directly into the container or in the ground about eight inches apart in full sun in early spring, then again at two-week intervals to keep the peas coming throughout the spring and early summer. The plants are so pretty, I will plant some in a container on the patio in early spring with colorful pansies for a combination ornamental and edible display. Patio Pride will grow to about two feet tall – no staking needed – and yield a consistent harvest over many weeks. Pick the pods of  Patio Pride early for best flavor and tenderness. I will sow seeds again in mid-summer for an early fall harvest, keeping the young plants watered and shaded from the worst of the summer sun as they grow.

“Honeybaby F1" is a very productive variety of winter squash that produces a lot of fruit on a compact plant. These shorter vines grow two- to three-feet tall with a vigorous, bushy habit that results in healthier plants that resisted powdery mildew later in the season. Even though the vines are shorter than other butternut-type winter squash vines, stake Honeybaby vines to help support the blocky, wide fruit. You can expect eight or nine half-pound fruit per plant. Sow seeds in full sun about 10 inches apart as soon as soil temperatures reach 65 degrees to ensure maturity in about 90 days. I will plant them as the centerpieces of two large containers, with purple sweet potato vines trailing over the edge. Honeybaby is sweet and nutty, and meatier than similar winter squash varieties. Enjoy Honeybaby baked, steamed, or cooked in soups, sauces and stews.

“'Mini Love F1" is a personal-sized Asian watermelon, perfect for smaller families, or smaller gardens. The three- to four-foot vines produce up to six fruits per plant and can be grown in large containers. This deep-red fleshed watermelon has a thin but strong rind that can be carved for fruit salad presentations. Mini Love has a high sugar content, making it sweet, crisp, refreshing and juicy with very few seeds, a true summer delight for watermelon lovers. Sow seeds indoors one month before the last frost date for transplants, or directly in the ground in full sun once the soil has warmed in spring. Space the plants three to four feet apart, and keep the soil moist for the first weeks. You can expect up to five light-green striped fruit per plant, each weighing seven to nine pounds. I will grow these in my small garden where tomatoes grew the previous year, and add lots of compost to the soil to make up for the nutrients depleted by the tomato plants.

Okra “Candle Fire” F1 is a unique red okra with rounded pods that are a brighter red color than the other reddish okras available. Candle Fire received high marks from the AAS judges for productivity, taste, texture and tenderness as well as for the ornamental value of red pods on red stems. Candle Fire thrives in the heat and is disease resistant even during the hottest, most humid days of summer. Sow seeds 18 inches apart in full sun after soaking them in water overnight for best results. Expect up to 30 fruit per plant in two months from sowing seeds or one month from transplants. It is maintenance free, except for the frequent harvesting. Enjoy okra Candle Fire fresh or boiled. I will grow these in the garden so in the fall I can use the dried fruit in flower arrangements.

I have grown many AAS Vegetable Award Winners in the past, with great results. This year's crop looks very promising.

 

Lori Rose, The Midnight Gardener, May all your weeds be dandelions from a child

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