Woman and child kneel in garden soil.

NDSU’s Home Garden Variety Trials Engage Hundreds of Gardeners

Authored on

Each spring, NDSU Extension horticulturist Tom Kalb distributes thousands of seed packets to North Dakotans who participate in the North Dakota Home Garden Variety Trial Program. The results of the research determine variety recommendations for gardeners across the state.

In 2022, gardeners at 287 sites rated a total of 130 vegetable varieties for germination, plant health, earliness, yield and food quality. Data were obtained from 43 of 53 counties in North Dakota. The results were published and are being shared with thousands of gardeners in 2023.

“The program is open to everybody — new and experienced gardeners, commercial growers and even youth,” says Kalb. “We want to know the performance of these varieties under actual, home gardening conditions. Finding the best varieties for our state has been shown to help gardeners increase their yield, reduce their use of pesticides and grow vegetables that taste better.”

Gardeners can join the garden variety trials team by signing up online. They must pledge to manage their trials responsibly and submit results promptly at the end of the growing season.

“We have an expanding team of hundreds of gardeners who volunteer their time and effort to help conduct research for NDSU,” says Kalb. “I am impressed by how engaged and responsible people are. They enjoy being part of a team and contributing to research that benefits fellow gardeners.”

Participants also benefit. Last year, 192 responses (71% response rate) to an online survey showed:

  • 98% were introduced to new varieties.
  • 96% will change the way they grow their garden in the future.
  • 92% reported more productive gardens.
  • 82% reported healthier diets.

Parents in households with youth participants reported:

  • 92% of youth improved their diets.
  • 91% of youth increased their level of physical activity.
  • 76% of youth sharpened their skills in science and math.

The 2023 catalog is available now through early summer.


NDSU Extension Home Garden Variety Trials 

Tom Kalb, 701-328-9722,