Seasons of the Garden: New Vegetable Varieties for 1980

Here's a rundown of some of the new vegetable varieties prominent American seed companies introduced for the 1980 growing season.

| January/February 1980

It's the dead of winter, and in many parts of the country the cold wind mutters threats of snow. The frost is deep in the soil, and the green of the garden is only a memory. Inside, the root cellar's starting to look mighty bare, and the jars of put-by tomatoes are dwindling fast. Grab a kitten for comfort, curl up in front of the fire with your garden plan and the new seed catalogs . . . and dream of spring's fresh promise. New vegetable varieties await your tender care. 


Two of the All-America Selections for 1980 are of particular interest to vegetable gardeners. A wonderful vivid yellow zucchini, named Gold Rush, sets loads of squash on compact plants (they take up a mere four square feet!). The unusual plant's habit of growth is upright and open, so air can easily penetrate to the base and prevent overly wet soil and rotting fruit. Furthermore, just think how attractive bright yellow Gold Rush would look when steamed up with a crisp batch of dark green Scallopini squash ... a Patty Pan/zucchini cross that was an All -America winner in 1977! 

Another 1980 prizewinner, the bronze medal Holiday Time pepper, is both ornamental and edible! The compact plants (a full-grown specimen can be put in a quart jar) will even bloom and set fruit indoors . . . and you don't need to worry about insect or hand pollination. The fruits poke up through the foliage like tiny dunce caps, and they color as they mature from yellow to orange to scarlet. When it's time for some spicy food, you'll find that the little peppers can make a pungent contribution to your meal. 

And here's a little more All-American news: The (organic, naturally) garden at MOTHER EARTH NEWS' Eco-Village has been designated a display garden by the All-America Selections folks. This means we'll be exhibiting AAS winners from the past, present, and immediate future . . . and that people who attend next year's seminar series on MOTHER EARTH NEWS' beautiful mountain property will have still another sight to look forward to! More about our organic display garden—the only one we know of!—in future issues. 

Keepin' It Sweet

Folks used to joke that the only way to really appreciate the flavor of sweet corn was to have a pot of boiling water next to you in the field as you cut the succulent ears . . . because the time it took to walk from the corn patch to the kitchen was considered long enough for this delicate vegetable's rich supply of sugar to start changing to starch.

Well, the need for such haste disappeared back in 1961 with the development (based on research done at the Universities of Michigan and Illinois) of the "shrunken gene" varieties of extra sweet corn. The two new hybrids (known as Early Extra Sweet and Illinichief Super Sweet) are twice as sweet as normal corn at the moment of harvest and—because the sugar content converts to starch more slowly—four times as sweet 48 hours after picking. In fact, the only problem with these fine cultivars is that they absolutely must be kept isolated from other varieties of corn ... since cross-pollination causes the extra-sweet hybrids to revert to their dominant ancestor, starchy field corn.

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