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UW-Green Bay to host annual Heirloom Plant Sale May 18

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After a cold and gloomy spring, UW-Green Bay’s Natural and Applied Sciences unit says its annual Heirloom Plant Sale will be a bright spot for campus and community.

NAS will host this year’s event Saturday, May 18, at the Lab Sciences Building Greenhouse located on campus, 2420 Nicolet Drive. Doors open at 9 a.m., with numbers passed out starting at 7 a.m. for those who don’t want to stand in line. All plants are $1.75. Individuals looking for a specific variety or for peppers, herbs or flowers may want to arrive early, but organizers generally have a good selection of tomatoes, herbs and vegetables for those who want to wait until after the rush. The sale concludes at 3 p.m.

The UW-Green Bay sale features unique and rare heirloom varieties. Its goals include introducing local gardeners to new varieties and protecting agricultural biodiversity. This year’s sale features more than 75 varieties of tomatoes (2,500-plus plants) and 50 varieties of peppers (1,500-plus plants), including sweet bells in four colors, as well as mild, medium, hot and scorching hot peppers. Other vegetables include eggplants, broccoli, tomatillos, cucumbers and lettuce.

The heirloom sale also will feature several unusual herbs, including four kinds of basil and 12 varieties of old-fashioned flowers. Lists of plants offered and links to descriptions can be found at www.uwgb.edu/biodiversity/. The UW-Green Bay biodiversity blog, http://blog.uwgb.edu/biodiversity/, will be updated with information on specific varieties and growing techniques throughout the summer. Campus and community members are welcome to submit photos of favorite tomatoes and recipes and suggestions for what should be sold next year.

The UW-Green Bay sale features more than 100 “heirloom” varieties of vegetables, herbs and flowers that were developed by gardeners during the last 200 years to satisfy the needs of most Wisconsin gardeners. These varieties offer more diversity to match specific culinary needs and generally have better flavor than the common hybrid varieties.

Sale organizers have a tomato to suit nearly everyone, from the gourmet cook to beginning gardener. These include cherry tomatoes, slicers, giants and pastes. Along with the old favorites, the sale will feature some new varieties including Paul Robeson, Bush Beefsteak, WI Chief, and Dester tomatoes and Orange Bell, California Wonder bell, and Maule’s Red hot peppers. As always, the sale will include early maturing tomatoes and peppers, such as Siberian tomatoes and King of the North bells and Early Jalapenos.

The heirloom sale also will feature eggplants, cucumbers, six types of basil, variety leaf lettuces and more than a dozen unique old-fashioned flower and herb varieties. These include Sweet Mace, a marigold that is a good northern substitute for tarragon, and two old-time fuzzy favorites — Lambs Ears and Bunny Tails.

The annual Heirloom Plant Sale, sponsored by the Natural and Applied Sciences academic unit, began in 1994 with 300 plants for sale. Students benefit from the proceeds that are used to bring in scientists and other speakers, and support student research projects and travel to conferences. Last year’s sale has supported research on northern pike and habitat restoration, and allowed 15 students to travel to scientific meetings.

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