All America Selections: Seeds for 1994

Since 1933, All-America Selections has been evaluating and choosing the best seed varieties developed by seed companies. Here are an assortment of their picks for 1994 and the early '90s.

| April/May 1994

  • 143 all america selections - english lavender
    "Lady" English Lavender was the 1994 All-America Selections flower award winner.
  • 143 all america selections - tomato
    "Big Beef" tomato was a 1994 AAS winner in the vegetables category.
  • 143 all america selections - cucumber
    "Fanfare" cucumber was another AAS winner in the vegetables category.

  • 143 all america selections - english lavender
  • 143 all america selections - tomato
  • 143 all america selections - cucumber

Time-proven garden seed varieties such as Provider bush beans, Green Mountain potatoes, and Cut-&-Come Again zinnias predominate in our gardens. But we always leave a few rows to experiment with, like the year purple vegetables were all the rage and we grew purple potatoes, purple bush beans, purple-kerneled corn, and purple-head broccoli. They go along with the eggplant, blue kale, and those Arancuna chicken eggs that were supposed to be low-cholesterol and blue shelled but turned out to be few, tiny, and olive drab.

This year, we're trying traditional Golden Bantam sweet corn again and will strive to get it picked before it turns too chewy for anything but corn relish. We usually transplant especially vigorous volunteer tomatoes or squash plants from the compost bins to the trial garden, and we always try a few of the new varieties that look so dew-bedecked and mouth watering in the seed catalogs.

Of course, not every experiment succeeds in our ornery Yankee climate. Only Royalty "Purple-Pod" Bush Beans remain from the "purple" experiment, and most volunteer plants prove to be all vine and no fruit. But only by experimenting did we discover fast-growing top-quality Green Comet broccoli and the great tomato Celebrity that have become staples of our summer's bounty. And we only heard of them because they were recommended in years past by All-America Selections (AAS).

All-America Selections was founded in 1933 by North American seed growers to establish a degree of uniformity in home garden seed identification and promotion—voluntary "truth in labeling" 60 years before other industries had it forced on them. Each year, AAS enlists a panel of unpaid, volunteer experts—academics, horticulturists, gardeners, and seed growers from 50-plus locations across the United States and Canada—to try the new garden vegetables and new cut- and bedding-flower varieties submitted by member organizations.

In blind trials, where identity of seed developers is concealed, each panelist germinates upwards of 1,000 trial plants, grows them to maturity, then evaluates each on the basis of growth habit, disease resistance, yield, and appearance—and, for eating quality in vegetables. All-America Selections collects and tabulates the findings and superior varieties are determined. Periodically, medals are awarded for truly exceptional quality or originality: the last gold-medal winner was fast-flowering coreopsis "Early Sunrise" in 1989. Winners are used to promote the seed industry. Of course, not all the selected varieties become popular, but those that do will sport the "AAS Winner" or "AAS Gold Medal Winner" designation in their catalog descriptions and you will see AAS on seed packets.

Time was, we home gardeners couldn't avoid Sunday-supplement and magazine articles on the new All-America Selections each late winter/early spring. But these days the garden press seems to be neglecting AAS in favor of their own panels of experts ...following what one of our seasoned contributors calls "The Emma Mudd School of Gardening"; the idea being that the personal experience of a few amateur gardeners is more valid than the informed judgment of USDA and aggie school professionals. A shame to waste all that brainpower whose sole purpose is to make things easier for the rest of us.


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