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. That will make it easier to carry home the bounty of ideas and samples offered by the station’s staff, Extension specialists, Master Gardeners, and other volunteers at the many indoor and outdoor displays.
In addition to helping you grow your greatest garden ever, this annual
event is great for finding new ways to add color to your backyard and
your plate. For example, a Beauty and the Beet display will show an
underappreciated vegetable in new 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
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.
West Madison Master Gardeners will be selling 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.
There will be many activities geared to kids. To name a few: They 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 to cover costs. Don’t be discouraged by roadwork 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 at www.cals.wisc.edu/westmad/garden/.