Culinary Creations from the Garden

Pak Choi

Scientifically classified as Brassica rapa ssp. chinensis, Pak choi is generally grouped together with a few other B. rapa subspecies referred to as “Chinese Cabbage”. Pak choi (often spelt as Bok choy, Pak choy, or Bok choi) was transliterated from the Cantonese word for “white vegetable”. Like many other Brassica plants, pak choi, is a biennial plant (a biennial plant grows vegetatively for one season and then flowers and sets fruit the following season) that is grown as an annual from seed and cultivated during its vegetative year.Gardeners who adore pak choi for its culinary uses often prefer to harvest the plant when it is small and tender (approximately 6 inches tall or shorter), yet I used larger plants for my recipe and they were still detectably delectable!

Miso Soup with Pak Choi and Tofu

Ingredients:

1/2 Block Tofu

1 Large Head or 2 Smaller Heads Pak Choi

1/2 Cup Onion

1/2 Cup Basil

1 Medium-Sized Carrot

2 1/2- 3 Tbsp Miso Paste of Choice

2 Cloves Garlic

1 Ginger Piece Sliced Thin

1 Tbsp Grapeseed Oil

Approx. 1 Tbsp Tamari Soy Sauce

2-3 Cups Water

Note: Mushrooms would make an awesome addition to this dish. If you choose to use some sliced crimini mushrooms, toss them to the the cooking pan at the same time as the onions.

pak choi ingredients

Preparation:

Combine coarsely chopped basil with peeled garlic and ginger into one bowl and set aside. Cube tofu and place cubes on a clean kitchen towel. Press tofu with towel in order to squeeze out excess moisture (this allows the tofu to fry up quicker and take-on a crispier texture). Chop of the root and the very bottom of the pak choi in order to free the leaves. Diagonally Slice each leaf (including its stalk/petiole) of pak choi into two or three pieces. The carrot can be thinly sliced with a knife or a mandolin and combined with the pak choi into a bowl separate from the other ingredients.

Cooking Instructions:

1. Briefly fry basil, garlic, and ginger in grapeseed oil until the basil wilts.

2. Move basil to the side of the frying pan or cooking pot to make room for tofu.

pak choi basil starting

3. Add cube tofu to pan and drizzle tamari soy sauce over tofu. Cook for about one minute and allow tofu to gather up a “crust” on one side before flipping it over.

pak choi tofu starting

4. Add chopped onion to the pan and continue to fry tofu until golden brown on each side.

pak choi tofu cooking

5. Add carrots and pak choi plus two Tbsp water. Cover frying pan/ soup pot with a lid and allow the vegetables to steam for one minute.

pak choi almost final

6. Add two cups of water or enough water to almost cover ingredients in the pan.

7. Allow vegetables to simmer in the water until tender.

8. Turn off the stove top burner and mix in miso paste.

9. Keep soup covered for about one minute more.

10. Gently stir soup and serve.

Pak choi soup final

Final Dish Serves 2-3 Portions.

-Madeline Wimmer, WMARS  Intern

2013 UW-WMARS Annual Flower Evaluations

The 2013 season is over and the results of our annual flower trials have been compiled. This year we conducted evaluations on 182 flower cultivars in our general trial and an additional 85 cultivars within our CFGW (Commercial Flower Growers of Wisconsin) trial. Starting in July we conducted evaluations a total of three times, approximately one month apart.  This data is used by seed companies, commercial greenhouse growers, and the public to better select varieties that will succeed in our region of the world. We thank all participants including student evaluators Deanna Delfosse and Rachel Peters.

2013 UW-WMARS Flower Trial

2013 CFGW Flower Trial

2012 – Field Conditions and Vegetable Review

Ruby King-Sweet Bell Pepper

The 2013 season will soon be upon us and looking back on last years field trials I am hoping for moisture. We have taken some time to review last years field conditions and the outcome of the Vegetable Trials. Please visit the following link which includes a review of the 2012 season and an overview of top performing veggies.

2012 Site Conditions and Vegetable Review

Garden Expo/Wisconsin Grape Growers Association – Table Grape and Pruning Program

Dormant season pruning, summer vine management and trellising, and summer pruning are three of the most important techniques a grower needs to master if he or she is to grow healthy and productive grapes.

09Sept1SomersetPortions of the presentation below were presented at the Wisconsin Commercial Fruit and Vegetable Conference and modified for the Wisconsin Garden Expo program.

The second presentation is the first section of the Wisconsin Garden Expo program and focuses on Seedless Table Grape production at the UW-Madison, West Madison Ag. Research Station.

garden Expo.Beginning Pruning 6

Garden Expo Seedless Table Grapes 7

Seedless Table Grape Report

09Sept1Trollhaugen1

Trollhaugen Seedless Table Grape

The seedless table grape trial at the station, in the garden, began in 2007.  Fifteen varieties were planted in early June.  We were all optimistic and had great hopes that at least four or five of the varieties would over-winter and produce a great crop of seedless table grapes.  The hardiness zones for the grape varieties ranged from Zone 6 to Zone 4.   Only one selection was rated at Zone 4.  Most fell in the range of 5a or 5b.

09Sept1Somerset

Sommerset Seedless Table Grapes

Now five years later, we know that 12 of those original 15 varieties have over-wintered, and produced abundant fruit that ripens in our climate, and each has a unique and unusual taste.

Our annual seedless table grape report for 2012 has a detailed account of the varieties that have over-wintered, and a description of each variety.   Please check the link below for the annual report.

seedless-table-grapes-for-wisconsin-2012a.pdf

Vanessa Seedless Table Grapes

Vanessa Seedless Table Grapes

2012 Vegetable Evaluations

‘Polar Bear Pumpkins’

Each year we trial annual fruits and vegetables. We evaluate new and old varieties side by side. During the season we make careful notation of flowering dates, fruit set dates, and first ripe fruits. In addition we evaluate plant habit, health, insect pressure, and taste. Our goal is to find out what varieties do best under our weather conditions here in Wisconsin.
Our data is used by both the home and market gardener to determine what to grow.

This years evaluations include a brief summary of weather conditions here at the station.

2012 UW-WMARS Vegetable Evaluations

2012 Annual Flower Evaluations

Some of the 2012 Annual Flower Trials

This year our flower trials included 388 cultivars of annual flowers. Three times during the season (Jul. 7, Aug. 6, and Sept. 10) we make careful evaluations of each. We look to evaluate the seed companies claims about the plant. We note consistency of size, habit, flowering, and color. We also note disease issues, insect pressure, and weather tolerance.Our evaluations are compiled with weather data and provided to the individual companies as well as the public.

In addition to our general trials we conduct a specific trial for the CFGW (Commercial Flower Growers of Wisconsin). With their financial support we trial up to 130 cultivars of one or two types of flowers a year. This year we conducted evaluations on sun loving impatiens and osteospermum. The goal of the trial is to provide this industry group a better understanding of which varieties thrive in conditions here in Wisconsin. This data helps Wisconsin growers provide consumers with varities better suited to our climate and soils.
Follow the links to this years annual flower evaluations:

2012 WMARS General Trial Evaluations

CFGW 2012 WMARS Field Trials-Impatiens

2012 CFGW Trial Evaluaitons – Osteospermum

Food Bank Harvests

Food Bank Donation – Sept 2012

Each year we conduct trials and research on various fruits and vegetables. After data and seasonal evaluations are completed we donate our produce to local food banks. This year we gave our produce to two local pantries Middleton Outreach Ministry and the Lussier Center-Food from Friends program. In total we gave over 3000lbs of produce over a 5 week period. We are proud to work with volunteers and the organizations to provide the community with healthy food.

Agriculture 101-Wisconsin Army National Guard

Soldiers receive instruction on growing root crops from garden manager Brian Emerson

On July 26 soldiers from the Wisconsin Army National Guard received training at the University Display Gardens. The instruction focused on growing techniques for grapes, apples, and vegetable crops. The training was part of a week long series ‘Agriculture 101’ that was coordinated by the UW Babcock institute. The soldiers were given an overview of many agricultural topics to help prepare them for their service dealing with civilian farmers abroad.