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The West Madison Ag Station is used by almost all disciplines in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences with focus on agronomic and horticultural plant breeding and variety trials, community outreach, student training, and providing feed and manure management for the UW-Madison campus livestock.
The cucumber beetle can be devastating in particular. Besides destroying blossoms they also transmit bacterial wilt(http://hort.uwex.edu/articles/vine-crops-disorder-bacterial-wilt-0), which will ultimately lead to the death of infected plants. In our garden we have not seen the numbers like we have this year. Especially this early in the season. Because we manage our vegetables organically we have sprayed for the beetle using a certified organic compound Pyganic. This pesticide effectively knocks down the population. It does not have a long-term persistence in the environment.
Garden staff evaluating sugar content of Raspberries.
The mild winter and now the recent heat has led to a very early season for our berry crops. The Raspberries are ahead about 3 weeks from last season with the berries being of a smaller size. Varieties currently at or just past peak include Prelude, Encore, and Boyne.
Evaluating fruit set.
The blueberries are 2-3weeks ahead with what looks to be a good crop. Sugar content and flavor are developing nicely. ‘Duke’ is our earliest variety and has some of the largest berries. So far ‘Ka Bluey’ is the favorite of evaluators. Sugar content on the varieties currently range from 11-18%.
The Verbena, Lantana, and Geraniums in this picture are a few of the 388 cultivars of flowers being trialed this year.
The University Display Garden is planted and freshly mulched. This year we are trialing a total of 388 cultivars of annual flowers and approximately 127 varieties of vegetables and other food crops. With the help of irrigation the plants are settling in nicely. We continue to hope for rain.
Please come and see our selections grow throughout the summer.
As the saying goes, April showers bring May flowers and after the dreary and rainy April, May has showered us with warmth and sunshine. Here are some of the beautiful things blooming in the gardens today! Don’t forget to come check them out, there is something to see all season long here!
The azaleas smell amazing!!
The Baptisia will soon be at its peak
The peonies are about to pop!
Alliums all over the city have been blooming, and the display gardens are no different.
Weigela and clematis, and amsonia oh my!
Our native pollinators bed looks amazing. The lupine is in full bloom here as well as in state and county parks in southern Wisconsin.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Our favorite broccoli variety is still producing well on November 5.
Harvesting began in early August and we are still harvesting.
‘Diplomat’ is a broccoli variety that we have been trialing for three years: 2008, 2009, and 2010. The first year we weren’t sure of the great results. So we decided we needed to trial this selection for at least one more year.
We loved the taste, production, and ease of growing so well that we decided we needed to taste this selection one more time……………….
Imperial Star - Secondary Heads - Harvested Nov. 5
The plant produces a huge first head. It begins to produce in 68 to 75 days from transplanting. Secondary heads are produced until hard frost and are at least 3 to 4 inches across.
About a month ago we discussed the arrival of the squash vine borer and our control methods. Since that time we have had incredible growth on the plants and have continued to watch for the adult moths. Since the first large influx of moths in June, we have seen a smaller second flight of the moths during the second week of July. Late last week we began to see the tell tale wilting of some vines. During the heat of the day we would see the wilt, then at night and in the morning the vine seemingly recovered. This signaled that the eggs of the moth had hatched and the larvae had burrowed into the base of the vine. Thus compromising water uptake and subsequently fruit formation.
Total infestation rate on our squash and pumpkins is probably about 5-10%. It is interesting to note that certain varieties are affected more than others. This year ‘Triamble’, ‘Blue Magic’, and ‘Guatemalan Blue Banana’ were the prefered cultivars. All are Cucubrita maxima and all are blue fruited. Not sure if this is a coincidence, but surely something to observe in upcoming seasons.
We have tried to save the wilting vines by slicing open the base and removing the larvae. After the base is slit you can remove larvae with a paper clip or knife. Some of our vines contained 10 or more larvae of different sizes. After extraction we mounded soil over the base and rooting nodes further down the vine. The hope is to encourage secondary rooting along the vine which will supplement the compromised vascular system at the base of the plant. So far the plants seem to be recovering we will see if our efforts are enough to mature the fruits that have already set on the vine.
For more info on the squash vine borer visit http://wihort.uwex.edu/gardenfacts./XHT1136.pdf
With one month to go until our annual Field Day the gardens are looking spectacular. Each year, on the third Saturday in August, we invite the public to come out and enjoy the sights, smells, and tastes of our garden. The event is free and features UW Extension specialists, Master Gardeners, and garden staff available to answer questions on weeds, insects, disease, and other gardening topics. One of the highlights of the day is tasting samples of the ripe varieties of fruits and vegetables. In addition we will have children’s activities, as well as seed garlic and produce for sale.
Please join us on Sat. August 21, 2010 from 10am to 3pm for a relaxing, beautiful, and educational day at the West Madison University Display Gardens. 8502 Mineral Point Rd/ Verona, WI 53593. (608)-262-2257.