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 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.

Beneficial Insects

Tachinid fly on spearmint

In the past two weeks we have noticed a large populations of many insects in the garden. Along with all the destructive pests, we have also been lucky to have attracted many beneficials. Pictured above is a Tachinid fly. This beneficial insect is  parasitic toward caterpillars and larvae of some other pest species including various cabbage worms. We have seen huge populations particularly on perennial herb plants. Spearmint and Oregano seem to be highly attractant to these flies.  We are very glad to have attracted these insects to the garden. Even if they provide a minimal degree of pest control we feel that there presence is important to managing our garden sustainably. See link http://www.entomology.wisc.edu/mbcn/kyf409.html

Family Horticulture Day Activities Galore

How many people in Wisconsin eat ice cream outside in during cold weather………lots.   The Family Horticulture Day on Saturday, May 14 was a great success even though it was rainy, cold, and very windy.   People braved the cold, toured the gardens, picked out their favorite vegetable plants, ate ice cream and popcorn, and had a great time communing with bees, other insects and creatures.

Insects, vegetables and flowers always go together, but when have you seen insects the size of the ones visiting the station on Saturday.  Insects joined in the fun and made fast tracks out of their boxes.

The student Insect Ambassadors brought their collection of Madagascar Hissing cockroaches, and other exotic insects.  Children had a great time, even though some parents cringed, providing walking space for the large   critters.

Visitors learned how to garden in small spaces.  Square Foot gardening, raised beds, and container gardens were a part of Saturday’s program.  Visitors were able to take home plans for beds and containers for patio gardens, in addition to plants for instant gardening pleasure.

Colorful carrots, colored popcorn, fresh from Wisconsin cranberries and Babcock ice cream were all features of the pigment in foods portion of the program.

Many hands-on activities were available for children and their parents.   Children had great fun observing plant parts, at the cellular level, using new technology, practicing being a bee pollinating plants, and making shaken drums using beans, balloons and lot of imagination.

Don’t miss the show next year.  Join us for a great time and an opportunity to experience the wonderful world of plant science.

Family Horticulture Day

You might want to grab a notebook, camera and tote bag before you head to Family Horticulture Day on May 14 at the University of Wisconsin’s West Madison Agricultural Research Station.
You’ll be bringing home a bounty of ideas and samples, provided by research station staff, Extension specialists, Master Gardener volunteers and UW students.
Those experts will be staffing a variety of outdoor and indoor displays and demonstrations, all geared toward helping you grow your greatest garden ever—and the most colorful.
A Beauty and the Beet display will show an underappreciated vegetable in unexpected hues and offer samples of organic golden beet seed.
The Popcorn Challenge will let you compare the textures of red, yellow and black kernels. You’ll also have a chance to sample red, white and yellow carrots, and afterwards, you can clear you palate with ice cream made with Wisconsin strawberries and raspberries.
You can also learn how to grow purple, red and yellow potatoes in a pot or garbage can—one of several demonstrations focused on planting and maintaining a kitchen garden in a small space—and take home seeds and seedlings to grow the potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, squash and pumpkins.
Experts will also show how to create inexpensive, attractive  “island gardens” to attract native pollinators that can give a big boost to vegetables, flowers, and fruit trees.
Late blight-resistant tomatoes seedlings and unique peppers will be available for sale. And the Wisconsin Hardy Plant Society will be holding their annual sale during the field day.
The event is for all ages. Kids can take home herbs to plant a “fragrance garden,” get close to hissing cockroaches and other intriguing bugs in the Wisconsin Insect Ambassadors collection, extract DNA glop from wheat and create a seed-filled shaken drum.
Admission and parking are free. A small donation will be requested for plants and seeds . There’s roadwork going on near the station, it’s easy to get through.
Family Horticulture Day runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The West Madison Agricultural Research Station is located about a mile west of the Beltline at 8502 Mineral Point Road. More information and directions to the gardens are available   http://universitydisplaygardens
You may also down load the flier for more information.  Family Hort Day flier2011
Questions call: 608-262-2257 and check out our listings on the phone or talk to Judy or Theresa.

Seedless Table Grape Trial

In 2007 we planted 15 varieties of seedless table grapes at the West Madison Research Station in the University Display Garden fruit plots. We will be releasing the full results of our trial in early January.

Below you will find our short list of favorites and a little description.

Somerset Seedless Table Grapes

Somerset Seedless

One of our favorite reds at this point is Somerset Seedless.  It has overwintered very well, and produces abundant fruit.   The berries are small but have a very complex taste.

Canadice - Red Seedless Table Grape


Canadice is also one of our favorite reds.  The fruit is beautiful on the vine and extremely complex.  In taste testing this was everyone’s favorite red.  We are still waiting to see how it will grow in 2011.  There was some early bud damage in 2010 due to a May frost and early-April warm temperatures that resulted in our grape vines breaking bud early in mid-April.

Trollhaugen - Blue Seedless Table Grape


One of our favorite blues is Trollhaugen.  It has nice large clusters, the fruit is very spicy and more complex than the old Concord Seedless.   It has overwintered well all 4 winters.

White grapes are still a challenge in Wisconsin.  Our favorites are Interlaken, Lakemont, and Marquis.

Interlaken - White Seedless Table Grape


In 2009 they each overwintered well and produced abundant fruit. Many of  fruiting buds were lost during the spring of 2010 due to early bud break.  However, their fruit is a beautiful green/white with blushes of rose, and we feel worth the wait to see what another year brings.  The taste of each is so spicy and sweet that we have been known to eat five or six clusters in a taste testing session……   We will have more information on these after the 2011 growing season.

Vegetable Evaluations – Summer 2010

Vegetable trials at the station were a real trial this year.  Rain totals for the summer were over 37 inches.   The heat and humidity were conducive to a range of diseases and strange physiological problems.  Tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers were prone to many undiagnosed spots, lesions, and steaks, not including those identified diseases

'Speckled Hound'  Winter Squash

'Speckled Hound' Winter Squash

This is the first year we have ever seen so much rust in sweet corn, that when we picked the corn we were covered with rust “dust”.  One of our volunteers was walking around with a rusty, red nose.

'Mars' Onion

'Mars' Onion

However, we did find many of the vegetables we were trialing performed quite well, the fruit was very flavorful, and productive.   We did need a machete to cut our way through the cucumber, squash, and pumpkin vines, but the insects seemed to be fewer than in past years.

'Sugarsnax 54'

'Sugarsnax 54'

The link below will include over 100 different selections of vegetables that we trialed in 2010.   We will be trailing as many vegetables again in 2011 and look forward to many new selections.

Vegetable Evaluation 2010

Evening Walk with Wildlife Specialist – David Drake

Tuesday, September 7, 7:30-9:00pm – A Walk with the Wildlife at West Madison Research Station, David Drake, Extension Wildlife Specialist

An evening garden walk focusing on urban wildlife will be held at 7:30 p.m. on September 7,   at the West Madison Agricultural Research Station. Please join us to learn about the many different animals that may call your garden or yard home or those that may be migrating overhead—listen to the night life. If you have questions about the wildlife in your area, this is your chance to ask an expert! This tour will be led by UW Extension Wildlife Specialist David Drake, and is open to the public (donation requested).  For complete details about this and other garden walks, please visit www.cals.wisc.edu/westmad/garden/.

Urban Horticulture Field Day- August 21

On Aug 21, 2010 from 10-3 we will be hosting our annual Urban Horticulture Field Day. Every year on the third Saturday in August we invite the public to our gardens for a fun, family-friendly, and educational event. This year we will be featuring the following:

  • Extension experts on insects and disease
  • Master gardeners to answer questions on flowers and vegetables
  • Garden staff and interns available to discuss this years varieties and trials
  • Organic vegetables and fruit for tasting and sale
  • Pepper roasting and salsa 11-3
  • Solar food dryer demonstration
  • Square Watermelon, Squash, and Tomato
  • Wisconsin Native Pollinators and how to attract them
  • Cut Flowers for Sale
  • Rain Barrels for sale -Sustain Dane
  • Garden Reference and Cookbook for sale-238 pages
  • Children’s Activities
  • Tour the garden 550 selections of flowers and vegetables.

We hope to see you there!