Allen Wilson is a Vancouver gardening specialist. Email Allen Wilson at email@example.com.
All-America Selections, a national nonprofit organization that tests plant varieties, has announced awards for five new vegetables after competitive trials across North America.
Two zesty peppers, a tomato, a winter squash and a personal-size watermelon are the winners.
Pepper Wildcat is a hybrid cayenne pepper with large, 2- to 3-ounce fruits on a high-yielding plant. The peppers have a mild pungency with nice thick, fleshy walls that are thicker than other varieties.
Each 3-foot plant will produce about 20 8- to 12-inch curved fruits that can be harvested at either the green or red stage. Wildcat has resistance to several pepper diseases. In our climate it requires about 85 days from transplant to first harvest.
Pepper San Joaquin is a determinate hybrid jalapeno that sets most of its fruit in a short period so a generous number of fruits are ready all at the same time. Fruit holds its firmness on the plant for a long period. It has medium jalapeno pungency. 30-inch plants are compact enough to be grown in a 5 gallon container. San Joaquin requires about 75 days from transplant to harvest in our climate.
Tomato Zenzei is an early-maturing hybrid Roma tomato that produces a high yield of fleshy plum-size tomatoes that are perfect for canning and freezing. It is resistant to several tomato diseases. Neat, compact plants produce 30 to 40 4- to 5-inch oblong fruits per plant. Zenzei can be grown in a container which is large enough for a cage. Five-foot plants take about 80 days from transplant to first harvest in our climate.
Squash kabocha Sweet Jade is a single-serving hybrid with 1- to 2-pound round green fruits and deep orange flesh. Sweet Jade’s flesh is dry yet sweet and very flavorful whether roasted, baked or pureed. Plants produce high yields of fruit that keeps well after harvest. Seed can be started inside just a month before outside planting. Vining plants spread to 6 feet. It takes about 100 days from transplant to harvest in our climate.
Watermelon Rubyfirm is a small, personal-sized melon that is about the size of a cantaloupe. It has very sweet, crisp flesh. It is well adapted to the Western U.S. with our cooler night temperatures. I recommend starting seeds in a sunny window around April 1. I plant two or three seeds per 4-inch pot and cover the pots with a clear plastic bag until seeds have sprouted. Water with warm water and place them in direct sun to get the warmth needed for quick germination. Transplant outside in early May. Rubyfirm needs about 90 days from outside transplanting to first harvest in our climate.
Go to all-americaselections.org for more information.