Three new vegetables have been given awards by All-America Selections, the non-profit testing organization for new flowers and vegetables.
A delightful new shallot (Echalion) named Crème Brulee is the first shallot available from seed. Shallots are small, sweet members of the onion family that have a milder, sweeter flavor than onions. Sweet enough to eat raw, they are widely used to enhance gourmet recipes.
Crème Brulee is easily grown from seed planted directly in the ground up to six weeks ahead of the average last frost date. The sweet, tender, purplish-pink bulbs are easy to peel for cooking. Carmelizing enhances the natural sugars and does not leave any overpowering aftertaste that can occur with other types of onions.
Goldilocks is a flavorful new acorn squash that matures bright orange rather than green. It produces vigorous plants that are bushy and compact. Disease tolerant plants produce 10 or more fruits each. The fruit has a nutty flavor that is more robust than typical acorn squash. One pound fruits are just right for two servings. Its uniform shape and color also make it excellent for fall ornamental decoration. The fruit is ready in about 70 days from transplants or 85 days from direct seeding.
Start squash seeds inside about four weeks before outside planting. Another good way to start seed is to plant three or four seeds in a spot in early to mid-May and cover with a gallon milk jug with the bottom removed. This warms the soil, causing seeds to sprout quickly. Remove the lid for ventilation after the seeds sprout.
Pepper Pot-a-peno is a fun, new jalapeno pepper with a compact habit perfect for growing in containers and hanging baskets. Plants produce lots of small, green jalapeno fruits that have a spicy zip that is great in any dish where you want a little punch of spice. Leave the fruit on the plant a little longer, and it will turn bright red. Pot-a-peno is earlier to mature than other jalapenos and grows well in the garden as well as containers. Each plant produces 35 or more 3- to 4-inch fruits. Pepper seed is best started inside about six to eight weeks ahead of outside transplanting.
All three of these new varieties are F-1 hybrids with built-in vigor and uniformity for high yields.
New varieties are sometimes difficult to find in their first year of introduction. Online and mail-order seed catalogs are the best source. I found Pot-a-peno at Parkseed.com. Park Seed also has last year’s winner, Cucumber Green Light, which performed beautifully for me last year both in a container and in the ground, producing dozens of 4- to 5-inch mild smooth-skinned fruits. Other sources are listed at All-americaselections.org. Full-service nurseries and garden stores can sometimes be persuaded to grow or obtain plants if a request is made in January.