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

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

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.

Solar Food Dehydration

A solar dryer is a low cost, simple mechanism that traps light energy and uses that energy to dry fruits, vegetables, and meat.   Solar dryers are usually very simply designed, highly effective and incurre virtually no operation cost. 

Food dehydration has proven to be an efficient form of long term food preservation that reaches far back in the history of food storage.  Minimal food nutrients are lost through solar  preservation.  Some measure need to be take to preserve the Vitamin C.  The design of our dehydrator preserves the Vitamin C content from being effected, by shielding the UV rays and only allowing the food to have contact with radiated heat.

University Display Garden staff worked with University of WI – Freshmen, Engineering students, to designed and built a solar food dehydrator, for the display gardens.  The garden staff is now using this dehydrator to preserve fruits and vegetables being trialing in the garden.

We are recording the temperatures attained within the dehydrator on throughout several drying periods.   Temperatures over 160 degrees, or higher,  have been attained on most sunny days.  In a few days we will know how long it takes to dehydrate a large selection of fruits and vegetables.

If you wish to find out more about the dehydrator, please visit the gardens or come to our Urban Horticulture Day on August 21 – 10:00 to 3:00.  We will be demonstrating how the dehydrator works and have plans available for this style and plans for small, simpler systems.  We will also have hand-outs available on the basic drying guidelines and samples of dried fruits and vegetables will be available for tasting.   Join us and have fun learning a new way to use old methods of preserving your garden produce.

For more information see the following link:

Solar Food Dryer Plans