All-America Selections Make Gardening Easier

‘Celebrity’ is one of my favorite tomatoes for the garden and an All-America Selections winner.

celebrity-tomatoes-blogEver since I discovered ‘Celebrity’ tomatoes, they’ve played an important role in my vegetable garden. This variety is easy to grow and it also carries the red, white and blue seal of an All-America Selections winner.

All-America Selections (AAS) is a nonprofit organization that tests and introduces superior new flowers and vegetables grown from seed. These experts know a good seed when they grow it.

Since 1932 AAS has helped the home gardener sort through new plant varieties and identify those that are improved over others on the market.

AAS was the brainchild of horticulturist W. Ray Hastings of Harrisburg, Penn. He saw the need for a network of independent trial gardens for testing new flowers and vegetables.

Hastings received $1000 in seed money from the Southern Seedsmen Association in 1932. AAS announced 19 new varieties of flowers and vegetables in 1933 and hundreds of flowers, vegetables and bedding plants have been selected since then.

Gardeners are the real beneficiaries of the annual trials. Seed companies and other breeders submit their seeds for testing and judges select cultivars offering significant improvements.

There are two trial gardens in Colorado. One is located at Welby Gardens in Denver and the other is the CSU trial grounds in Fort Collins.

Judges evaluate plants for new flower forms, new flower colors, fragrances, disease or pest resistance, or a new plant habit. For example, the petunia ‘Purple Wave’ was the first petunia with a trailing habit.

Because of such extensive testing, gardeners can trust the AAS winners to perform. Seed catalogs identify cultivars as AAS winners and plants at the garden centers have the distinctive AAS emblem on their labels. The All-AmericaSelections.org web site lists winners and local retailers.

One of the organization’s big success stories is the ‘Sugar Snap’ pea, introduced as a completely new vegetable in 1979.  Prior to this introduction, there were only two kinds of peas: the English pea and the snow pea. The ‘Sugar Snap’ pea combined the best qualities of the two.

It’s as crisp and sweet as a snow pea, however, if the pod is left on the vine to mature, it takes on the characteristics of an English pea and it can be shelled and boiled. That’s if they stay on the vine that long.


 

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Comments

What a wonderful presentation about All-America Selections. Thank you for communicating some history of AAS as well as our trialing program and the importance of our winners.

Marge Stancel
AAS Trials Coordinator

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