A pilot seed trial program was held during the 2019 growing season. Citizen scientists in Southeast Ohio volunteered to perform side-by-side comparisons of fruits and vegetable varieties grown in their home gardens. This was done in order to get real world feedback from those who like to garden and find out what Ohio gardeners would recommend to other gardeners. The seed trial project was modeled after the program being conducted in Tennessee over the last few years.
In April of 2019, participants signed up for 1 to 5 trials. They received two varieties for their trial, an information sheet with growing tips, and a record sheet for reporting results. They also received row markers for the garden. Included in the trial options were tomatoes, sweet peppers, bush beans, cucumbers, butternut squash, and cantaloupe. Each variety was grown in a 10 ft. row or the equivalent number in a square foot garden.
Throughout the season, participants were encouraged to take pictures and share their struggles and successes through our social media site. At the end of the season, they were able to report their results to an online site or mail them in. Most used the online site. They were asked to report on:
- Which germinated best?
- Which had the healthier plants?
- Which had the first fruit?
- Which had the biggest yield?
- Which had the more attractive fruit?
- Which had the best flavor?
- Which did they prefer and why?
- (Most importantly) Would you recommend this for Ohio growers?
Following the growing season, the results were compiled and reported back to the participants and made available to the public.
Recently, participants completed a post-trial survey about their experiences with the program and recommendations about any future trials. All reported having a positive experience and recommended continuing it in 2020 with the addition of cool season crops and expanding it to more Ohio growers. From this they have requested that we test spinach, peas, lettuce, kale, and broccoli for the cool season and cucumbers, bush beans, tomatoes, pumpkins and watermelons for the warm season.