This year, we decided to participate in the 2019 Home Garden Variety Trials coordinated by the University of Tennessee. This is the third year of the program and gardeners of all levels are invited to participate. The goal of the project is to evaluate different varieties of commonly-grown vegetables to determine what varieties are well suited for growing in Tennessee. You choose from different vegetable (and a few ornamental) categories and receive two different varieties to grow and evaluate. This year, the categories include green snap beans, compact snap beans, green pole beans, heritage pole beans, okra, corn, garden slicer cucumber, compact cucumber, pickling cucumber, specialty cucumber, muskmelon, watermelon, pumpkin, butternut squash, patty pan summer squash, small fruit summer squash, green zucchini, yellow zucchini, yellow summer squash, basil, zinnias, sunflowers, and nasturtiums. You can also choose to participate in a blind test where you receive two unlabeled varieties.
We chose to test the heritage pole beans (Turkey Craw and Hill Family Greasy), compact cucumber (Spacemaster and Bush Crop), patty pan squash (Sunburst and Janue et Verte), basil (Aroma II and Dolce Fresca) and nasturtiums (Alaska Mix and Trailing Mix).
The seeds are $1 for each category and you receive enough seed to plant a 10 foot row. Kids can receive 1 free trial pack per year. Each of the trial kits includes the seed and planting information as well as an evaluation sheet. Throughout the growing season you record information such as germination, disease susceptibility, yield and flavor.
We are looking forward to being a part of the program this year.