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March 5

The Extension Connection Column by Jeff Stachler

Best Vegetable Varieties for North Dakota

Hello to all! 

Griggs County Pesticide Recertification will take place on March 18, 2021 starting at 9:00 AM.  To register for this pesticide recertification meeting go to https://tinyurl.com/GriggsPrivate .  If you have questions about registering for this meeting contact the extension office at 701-797-3312 or e-mail Jeff Stachler at jeff.stachler@ndsu.edu.

Those of you interested in horticulture, an in person virtual meeting series will take place at the County Courthouse on March 22, 29, and April 5 and 12, 2021 from 6:30 to 8:30 PM.  Please preregister by calling the extension office at 701-797-3312 or e-mailing jeff.stachler@ndsu.edu. 

What’s the best way to find a great variety for us in North Dakota?

Ask your neighbor. Or better yet, ask hundreds of gardeners in North Dakota who test varieties for North Dakota State University. Last year alone, 320 families tested promising varieties in their backyard gardens. We’ve been doing these tests every summer since 2008.

We’ve discovered lots of great varieties through the years. The following are a few of the finest.

The best pea is ‘Lincoln.’ This heirloom produces high yields of delicious peas and is great for freezing. ‘Sugar Ann’ is our champion snap pea. This variety ripens early and produces big crops of sweet, crisp pods.

We’ve tested many bean varieties, and the one that generates the most excitement is ‘Crockett’ filet bean. Have you ever grown a filet bean? Try it! They are very crisp, slender and full of flavor. ‘Crockett’ produces amazing yields of dark green pods.

I invite you to sow burpless cucumbers. They produce the finest cucumbers for fresh eating. Burpless cucumbers have thin skins, small seeds, crisp flesh and refreshing flavor. ‘Summer Dance’ ripens early, produces a large yield and resists diseases. You will be dancing for joy.

For pickling, ‘Homemade Pickles’ is our all-time favorite. Its cucumbers are crisp, small-seeded and blocky. Its vines are productive and resist diseases.

Gardeners in our lettuce trials look for varieties that tolerate heat. ‘Buttercrunch’ is a popular classic and does well in our trials.

Try a Batavian lettuce. This type of lettuce produces crisp, wavy, delicious leaves all summer.

‘Muir’ and ‘Nevada’ are outstanding Batavian varieties. Other notable varieties of lettuce include ‘Alkindus,’ ‘Fusion,’ ‘Red Sails’ and ‘Bergam’s Green.’

Tolerance to heat is important also with spring-sown spinach. Our team prefers smooth-leaf varieties, which are easier to clean. ‘Space’ produces impressive yields of flavorful leaves in spring and summer.

Growing pumpkins is fun. ‘Neon’ is the easiest variety to grow in North Dakota. You will be amazed to see its bright orange pumpkins glowing in your garden in August, weeks ahead of all other varieties. Its vines are compact and won’t overrun the garden.

My kids like giant pumpkins, but most varieties require constant maintenance and produce big, ugly fruits. ‘Big Moose’ pumpkins will grow to 50 pounds without any special care. Its fruits are reddish orange and beautiful.

Growing melons in North Dakota is hard due to our short growing season. The best watermelon in our trials through the years has been ‘Sweet Dakota Rose.’ It was bred here, and many gardeners will tell you it is the best tasting watermelon they ever have eaten.

Another special melon that grows well here is the Galia melon. It has green flesh that is sweet and aromatic. ‘Arava’ and ‘Passport’ are reliable and flavorful.

As for tomatoes, I encourage you to try ‘SunSugar.’ Its vines produce an abundant supply of orange cherry tomatoes that are absolutely delicious.

Our list of recommended vegetable varieties for 2021 is available on our website. Do an online search for “North Dakota Home Garden Variety Trials” or go directly to the site at https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/homegardenvarietytrials.

I invite you to join our team this spring to try some of these winners as well as some new vegetable varieties. We test herbs and cut flowers, too. The trials are simple, and the entire family can get involved. Go to the Home Garden Variety Trials website and sign up to receive our online catalog.

For more information about gardening, contact the Griggs County Extension office at 701-797-3312.

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