Extension Master Gardeners have answers

Imagine an okra variety so tasty that a gardener in the know pronounces it “pithy.” Now there’s a seed to try in your garden.  

That’s just one takeaway from the University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener volunteers’ annual seed trials. Winners from the 2022 trials were announced this week by Extension Master Gardeners, now in their 41st year of testing seeds to determine what grows best in Minnesota’s gardens and backyards. 

In addition to okra, this year’s seed trials focused on varieties of Brandywine tomatoes, burpless cucumbers, daikon radishes, Chinese cabbage and large purple eggplant. Floral seed trials looked at annual asters and dwarf sunflowers. This year, 233 Master Gardener volunteers in 51 counties tested seeds from 48 varieties in home gardens as well as ones located in 14 community settings and two school gardens.  

“Because of our short growing season and harsh conditions, very few of the seeds you find at a garden center or catalog come from Minnesota,” said Sue Schiess, a Hennepin County Master Gardener who has overseen the volunteer seed trials for about 10 years. “While the weather is never the same twice – and growing conditions vary across the state – the statewide participation of so many devoted Master Gardeners yields sound, research-based advice for the home gardener.” 

The 2022 seed trials are compiled online at https://z.umn.edu/22seedtrials. Schiess has this preview: “If you want to grow good burpless cucumbers, stick with ‘Tasty Green’ and avoid ‘Early Spring,’ which may grow well elsewhere but not in Minnesota.”

Article courtesy of University of Minnesota Extension