UW-Green Bay heirloom vegetable plant sale is days away

GREEN BAY-Spring has sprung and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay heirloom vegetable plant sale is just around the corner.

The Natural and Applied Sciences academic unit at UW-Green Bay is holding the event Saturday, May 16, at the Lab Sciences Building Greenhouse located on campus at 2420 Nicolet Drive. Doors open at 9 a.m. with numbers passed out starting at 7:30 a.m. All plants are $1.50.

Unlike other vegetable sales, the UW-Green Bay sale features unique and rare heirloom varieties. Some of the University’s goals are to introduce local gardeners to new varieties and to protect agricultural biodiversity.

This year the sale features 50 varieties of tomatoes (5,000 plants), and 40 varieties of peppers (2,500 plants). There is also a good selection of lettuces, herbs (including basil, cilantro and borage), eggplants, cucumbers, purple tomatillos and flowers. Lists of plants offered and links to descriptions can be found can be found here.

Thanks to updating to the greenhouses that improved temperature and humidity controls, the University has a bumper crop of peppers, ranging from mild bells to the hottest of hot peppers.

This year there are two Wisconsin varieties—“Wisconsin Lakes” is a bell pepper developed at UW-Madison specifically for the state’s climate, while “Beaver Dam” is a mildly hot pepper
brought to the Beaver Dam area by Hungarian farmers in the 1920s.

Also available will be real scorchers like “Fatali,” “Carribean Red” and “Aji Crystal.” For the more faint of heat, there is a new New Mexico chile called “Joe Parker,” medium heat “TAM jalapenos,” and a Green Bay favorite “Pizza.” A new mild pepper is the “Prairie Fire,” a medium hot pepper that is perfect for adding interest to border or container gardens.

The tomato collection includes all sizes and colors. Old favorites like “Black Krim,” “Brandywine” and “Green Zebra” are back.

The sale once again has a large selection of early maturing tomatoes including “Fourth of July” hybrids, “Siberian,” “Stupice,” “Glacier,” and “Alaskan Fancy.” A large selection of medium to giant varieties should satisfy every tomato need.

New varieties include a flavorful orange tomato called “Moonglow,” “Japanese Black Trifele,” which can be very black in color or tinged with magenta, and “Wapsikon Peach,” a sweet and highly productive variety from Iowa.

Salsa makers will find other ingredients including cilantro, basil and large purple tomatillos.

This year the sale also includes eggplants, also two unusual cucumber varieties, three types of basil, a variety of leaf lettuces and several unique flower varieties.

The annual sale, sponsored by the Natural and Applied Sciences academic unit, began in 1994 with 300 seedlings. Students benefit from the proceeds that are used to bring in scientists and other speakers that students otherwise would not be able to meet, and to support student research projects as well as travel to conferences where they can present results of their research and meet scientists in their fields.