AP NEWS

Master Gardeners make their vegetable, flower recommendations

March 29, 2019

ST. CLOUD, Minn. — More than 120 volunteers from 46 counties have chosen their favorite vegetable and flower varieties.

The volunteers grew six kinds of vegetables and two kinds of flowers last summer, putting their recommendations on a list started in 1982 and that now includes more than 200 plants.

“We can help save frustration and money by guiding gardeners toward varieties that really do well in Minnesota,” said Sue Schiess, chairwoman of the Minnesota Master Gardener Seed Trial Leadership Team. “I don’t think you can get that information any place else.”

In a blind test, master gardeners monitor six varieties of each plant for disease and insect tolerance, growth and germination rate. They rate flowers for their bloom color, size and fragrance; vegetables are rated for taste and flavor, as well as productivity.

Schiess says the trials help sort out the “buzz” about new plants.

“Like the ‘Victoria Blue’ Salvia — that was a Minnesota winner from a number of years ago,” she said. “In spite of the chatter about fancy new varieties that are more expensive, they did not do as well (as the Victoria Blue).”

What’s being tested this year? Varieties of arugula, gold beets, sugar snap peas, red cabbage, mint, tall yellow snapdragons, a red-blossoming nasturtium and a very early tomato called Fourth of July.

For more information about the Minnesota Master Gardener Seed Trials, go to: https://z.umn.edu/MNWinners

Among the highlights of the 2018 winners:

• Edamame (young soybeans) was tested for the first time and Master Gardeners chose the variety Chiba Green as their favorite. Schiess says they reported all varieties tested were easy to grow.

• The truly yellow Valencia tomato achieved high marks for a slightly acidic, slightly sweet taste and soft skin.

• Nufar, a large leaf basil was chosen the best variety of large leaf basil.

• Gold Rush was the best yellow bean variety.

• Sweet Dumpling was the best small yellow squash variety.

• Feast was the best bunching onion variety.

• Salvia Victoria Blue held its top spot in spite of new challengers. Its blooms lasted past several frosts into October.

• Millenium was the best sweet pea variety.

What’s being tested this year? Varieties of arugula, gold beets, sugar snap peas, red cabbage, mint, tall yellow snapdragons, a red-blossoming nasturtium and a very early tomato called Fourth of July.

For more information about the Minnesota Master Gardener Seed Trials, go to: https://z.umn.edu/MNWinners