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Urban Horticultural Field Day set for Aug. 21

Ever wish you could grow cube-shaped fruit? Here’s your chance to learn how.

Experts will be on hand at Urban Horticultural Field Day on Saturday, Aug. 21 to teach the art of coaxing watermelons, pumpkins and squash to grow in cubes. The free event, which features tours of the station’s specialty gardens, samples of fresh produce and lots of face-time with gardening experts, runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the UW-Madison’s West Madison Agricultural Research Station, 8502 Mineral Point Road, about a mile west of the Beltline.

At the field day, visitors can explore the station’s numerous trial and demonstration gardens, including the vegetable gardens, annual flower gardens, native perennial garden and residential-scale rain garden, as well as plots with organic apples, cover crops and wine and table grapes.

UW-Extension specialists and master gardeners will be stationed throughout the grounds to answer questions about plant varieties, soil types, weeds, insects and plant diseases. To have specific insects or plant diseases identified, just bring along samples in plastic bags. This year, experts will also be on-site to explain how to attract native pollinators, create container gardens and build wheelchair accessible, raised-bed gardens.

Electrical engineering students will be demonstrating a homemade wind generator linked to a low-cost power distribution system built partly of recycled electronics, says Giri Venkataramanan, a professor of electrical and computer engineering.

During the day, be sure to stop by the sampling tent for bites of melons, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and fresh salsa. Pieces of solar-dried fruits and vegetables will also be available for tasting, along with information about how to build a solar dehydrator.

For those who end up hungry for more, cooking kits for salsa, tomato sauce, and gazpacho will be available for purchase, as well as peppers, organic potatoes of various colors and sizes, garlic cloves for planting and cooking, and cut flowers.

Children will be able to participate in a plant scavenger hunt, make nature solar prints, UV bead bracelets and more.

Handouts about the station’s specialty gardens, gardening guides and other publications will be available. Throughout the day, West Madison’s master gardeners will also be on-site selling “Garden to Table,” a gardening guide and recipe book they published.

The Urban Horticulture Field Day is a joint project of the West Madison Agricultural Research Station staff, University of Wisconsin-Extension specialists, Master Gardener Volunteers and researchers at the UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

For more information, visit the station’s website or its blog.