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Blog-NOV2020—212×212

2021 Veggie Seed Orders


Ordinarily, I would write this post closer to Christmas than Thanksgiving. But two things are on the horizon:
one, is the receipt of my first seed catalog of the season (I expect it any day). The second is a repeat of what
we had this year: a run on seeds by newly-minted (housebound) gardeners. So I thought I’d better get
cracking on sharing exactly what worked and what didn’t in my 2020 garden, even as I am still harvesting
the last of the tomatoes and squash.

The Value of an AAS Designation
There are several All America Selection (AAS) vegetable winners to highlight. What better recommendation
than a vegetable that has been tested regionally and nationally, and been proven to perform best over all
of North America. AAS Winners have been put through their paces by independent, neutral experts in their
field to earn their stamp of approval. Further, AAS Winners are bred and produced without using genetic
engineering, i.e., they are non-GMO.  Tomatoes Top The List
Let’s start with America’s favorite home grown vegetable: tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum). They are
grown in over 85% of all American gardens.

Tomato Buffalosun
Tomato Buffalosun is a 2020 AAS vegetable winner that is also an heirloom. We found it produced a high
yield with great texture and very little cracking. Its color was a unique yellow with splashes of a flame-like
red/orange color that made it beautiful on the vine. Those exterior colors extended to create a nicely
marbled interior, which was also meaty, sweet and good tasting. Its late blight resistance contributed to the
plant outlasting its neighbors when disease came knocking later in the season.

 

Tomato Japanese Black Trifele
Our second favorite tomato was Japanese Black Trifele. This one is an unusual pear shape with greenstreaked shoulders. The color deepened to a burnished mahogany until it finally evolved to a darkened, nearly black base. The meaty interior had similar, opulent shades and an incomparable, complex, and rich flavor to match. The fruit grew to about 2 ½–3 inches long and wide, and was very crack-resistant.

 

Tomato Valencia
Our one Valencia tomato plant delivered round, smooth, bright orange fruit in mid-season. This fruit’s
history is as interesting as the flavor and color. It seems it originated in the city of Valencia in Spain and was
then brought into Maine. Its sunset orange color stayed true all the way through the ripening process,
inside and out. We enjoyed a rich, full flavored tomato with some pineapple-like undertones. Round,
smooth fruits averaged 8-10 oz. each with meaty interiors and few seeds. It was one of our last vines to
finally give up as cold weather settled in.

Tomato Apple Yellow
One of the cutest small tomatoes I have ever grown is Tomato Apple Yellow. This AAS Winner offers incredible garden performance, a dimpled apple-shape fruit with a deliciously sweet citrusy taste and firm, meaty texture. The somewhat mid-height vine produced abundant clusters of 8-12 tomatoes each, delivering hundreds of fruits per plant. Its eye-catching, bright, lemon yellow color looked great in salads –  when the harvest made it into the house.

Diva Cucumber
But man does not live by tomatoes alone, to borrow a phrase. For the cucumber lover, I would strongly
recommend Cucumber Diva. This is another AAS winner but from way back in 2002. It was sweet flavored
and high yielding. When harvested at 6-8 inches, the fruit wasn’t bitter, and held a crisp texture. Normally
seedless, a few seeds crept in when pollinated by other cuke plants. Diva’s best characteristic was that it
produced all female flowers (gynoecious) and did not need pollen to set fruit (parthenocarpic). This is one
way to outsmart the voracious and disease carrying cucumber beetle: grow Diva under a row cover. All
those female flowers on a healthy plant delivered lots of cukes for several months. Plus the plant’s genetics
to resist scab, powdery, and downy mildew gave it a long life in the garden.

Festival Acorn Winter Squash
We grew this one simply based on its good looks. I just thought it was beautiful with its cream colored base, striped decoratively with green and orange. These grew on compact, semi-bush vines, so I trained them vertically to save space. The fruits were compact at just a couple of pounds each, perfect for individual servings. The one plant that survived tropical storm Isaias gave us a good yield that I hope to be eating for a few months to come.

Baby Spaghetti Winter Squash
Not everyone in the family is as fond of spaghetti squash as I. So this time we planted Baby Winter
Spaghetti Squash. These “mini” spaghetti squashes grew on semi-compact vines that I trained up a trellis.
The 4-5 inch little golden squashes hung like ornaments and I could easily monitor their progress. Like all
winter squash, they should last for a few months with proper storage.  Remember when you start your seeds to use Sprout Island Organic Seed Starter!

 

There’s a terrific video on the Coast of Maine site about why it’s so good.
So before too much time passes, sit down with your favorite beverage and seed catalogs to make your selections.

 

 

Written by Lorraine Ballato, author of Success With Hydrangeas, A Gardener’s Guide

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