UW-Green Bay heirloom vegetable plant sale is Saturday

peppersThe annual heirloom plant sale at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is set for this Saturday (May 15) at the 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., and the sale expected to wrap up by about 2 p.m. All plants are $1.50.

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.

The sale features unique and rare heirloom varieties. Goals are to introduce local gardeners to new varieties and protect agricultural biodiversity. This year the sale features 77 different varieties of tomatoes (7,500 plants), and 40 varieties of peppers, including eight different bells and 9 mild peppers (3,000 pepper plants in all). Other vegetables include eggplants, tomatillos, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, and lettuce. They’ll also have a good selection of herbs, including four kinds of basil, stevia, hyssop, borage, as well as eight kinds of flowers.

Lists of plants offered and links to descriptions can be found can be found at www.uwgb.edu/biodiversity/plantsale/index.htm. There’s also a blog at http://blog.uwgb.edu/plantsale/. Information on specific varieties and growing techniques will be posted throughout the summer.

“Whether it is economic conditions or to re-connect with land and family, more people than ever are growing vegetables,” says sale coordinator Vicki Medland. She observes that “most of what is offered commercially focuses on production or storage values favored by agricultural growers rather than qualities home gardeners desire like flavor, or canning suitability. Our sale is unique because it offers varieties of tomatoes and peppers that were developed over the last 200 years to satisfy the needs of most Wisconsin gardeners.”

Bell peppers are always popular sellers, and “the best tasting and earliest varieties we could find” include Wisconsin Lakes and King of the North, along with yellow, purple, and chocolate varieties, Medland says. Also available will be peppers “from sweet to real scorchers.”

“Golden Treasure is a beautiful sweet Italian frying pepper, perfect for adding to sandwiches,” Medland says. “We have Mexican ancho, Serrano, jalapeno, and chile varieties. And of course we have a great selection for those hot pepper aficionados including a rare variety called Rocoto that is actually a different species from our other peppers. It has black seeds and fuzzy leaves. We even have ‘bird’ peppers for people looking for something for their pet parrots and cockatiels.”

The tomato selections include cherry-size to jumbo, favorites such as Brandywine, Black Krim, Mortgage Lifter, and Green Zebra, as well as early maturing tomatoes including Fourth of July, Siberian, Stupice, Glacier and Alaskan Fancy. Sauce and salsa enthusiasts might be interested to know that more paste varieties have been added this year (a total of nine), with yellow and orange varieties for those wanting to create gourmet sauces and salsas.

Broccoli and cauliflower plants have been added to the vegetable list, joining eggplants, cucumbers, variety leaf lettuces, and several unique flower and herb varieties.


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