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Proven Winners

Award-Winning Vegetables

Michael Weishan and gardener Kip Anderson take a stroll through the Victory vegetable garden to point out six award-winning veggies varieties that would make great choices for your own back yard.

The Silver Screen has the Oscars. The recording industry has the Grammies. But is there any such prestigious recognition available for over-achieving — though less animated (and lower-maintenance) —flowers and vegetables? Believe it or not, there is: the All-America Selections. Since 1933, the best and brightest varieties from a series of independent trial gardens across North America have been annually judged to identify the top luminaries of the plant world.

Here are but a few of the recent vegetable winners we recommend as best bets for your own garden:

tomato - Juliet



(1999 AAS Award Winner)
The 1-ounce, sweet-tasting tomatoes form in prolific clusters like grapes on long vigorous vines. The fruit shape is an elongated cherry type, easy to hold for cutting, with glossy red skin. That 'Juliet' tomatoes do not crack waiting for your harvest is a bonus, although you'll waste no time gathering in these delicious little beauties.

cucumber - Diva



(2002 AAS Award Winner)
'Diva' offers an abundance of smooth-skinned cucumbers that are wonderfully crisp and sweet, especially when harvested at a size of about 5 inches. Producing all female flowers, 'Diva' does not require cross-pollination to yield fruit, which is almost entirely seedless. 'Diva' cucumbers mature in about 58 days from sowing seed in warm soil. The plants are also resistant to scab and tolerant to powdery and downy mildews.

squash - Cornell's Bush Delicata


'Cornell's Bush Delicata'

(2002 AAS Award Winner)
Rich in vitamin A, the sweet flesh of the 'Cornell's Bush Delicata' has a fine texture without coarse strings. A benefit of this variety is a long shelf life, meaning you can enjoy eating the squash into the winter months. Count on approximately 100 days from sowing to harvest. This variety's resistance to powdery mildew will increase your overall yield, and the relatively compact vines take up less garden space. The mature bush will send out 4- to 6-foot runners later in the season.

basil - Siam Queen


'Siam Queen'

(1997 AAS Award Winner)
Prized for both its culinary uses and its quality as an ornamental plant, 'Siam Queen' is a highly aromatic basil with strong licorice overtones. Late flowering, the mature plant will reach about 2 feet in height and width.

basil - Magical Michael


'Magical Michael'

(2002 AAS Award Winner)
An ornamental, edible sweet basil with a clearly refined plant size and shape, 'Magical Michael' plants are uniform and reliably reach 15 inches tall and 16 to 17 inches wide —a uniformity rare in sweet basil plants. The lush aromatic, green leaves can be harvested within 30 days of transplanting and are rich in essential oils for cooking. Plants may flower when mature in about 80 to 90 days from seed.

lettuce - Buttercrunch



(1963 AAS Award Winner)
A heat resistant, late-season lettuce, this veteran favorite has one of the most pleasing combinations of flavor and texture of any bibb lettuce — tender yet crunchy. 'Buttercrunch' is compact, easy to grow, and reaches maturity in about 65 days from sowing. Debuting to much fanfare in 1963, this lettuce has seen its name in lights ever since.

trowel icon For more information about the All-America Selections, visit the organization online at

For more information on resources used on the show, visit our Resource Directory

This segment appears in show #2716.

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Published August 31, 2007