Dr. Oved Shifriss of Rutgers University has been breeding new and better plants for almost three decades now. His emphasis has never been simply on bigger and better-looking vegetables, but on good taste and high nutrition as well.
Plant breeders will tell you that theirs is a profession demanding infinite patience and perseverance. For every success there are scores of frustrations; promising experiments that suddenly turn sour. The strikeouts far outnumber the base hits, you might say. But then, every so often some one connects with the meat of the bat and the long ball results.
Dr. Shifriss has just done this with a new winter squash which also doubles as a summer squash.
His Jersey Golden Acorn has met the stringent requirements of All American Selections judges and been awarded a bronze medal for 1982. To win an AAS award a vegetable must perform better than its closest relative in a wide range of climates and geographic areas within North America.
To succeed it must grow vigorously, produce abundantly, and taste good to the judges. The Jersey Golden Acorn has done all that and something more. Analysis shows it to be nutritionally superior as well. Dr. Shifriss looks on the golden acorn as one small step ''in the evolutionary development of squash into a nutritionally superior food.''
Jersey Golden Acorn is a bush squash growing four to five feet across, which makes it ideal for the smaller garden. Each plant will support between two and four mature squash and many more small ones.
The idea is to let the plant set three or four squash which will be left on the vine to mature. Each squash will weigh between two and four pounds when mature and turn a rich golden color. Thereafter, cut all subsequent squash that form when they are golf-ball size or a little larger. Then steam them whole as a tasty summer squash. At this stage they will be a pale creamy color.
When the Jersey Golden Acorn first sprout, the leaves are a buttery color. No , there is no mineral deficiency in your soil. This is perfectly natural. Normal green leaves will soon form, particularly as the weather warms up.
All America Selections suggests making raised beds or flat-topped mounds for the squash by digging several inches of manure and sand into the soil. The sand provides good drainage and warms the soil to promote rapid growth. The manure provides nutrients and as well as moisture-retention qualities without letting the soil stay soggy.