By Charlotte Berg, Rachel Krause, & Melissa Hamilton
The University of Wisconsin – Green Bay’s Natural and Applied Sciences (NAS) program holds its annual heirloom plant sale through May 15, 2021. The deal is designed to preserve and promote the growth of heirloom plants for the local community. Also, it funded research of undergraduate and graduate students and sponsored the weekly seminar series from NAS.
According to the NAS Website, “The Heirloom plant sale was started by former NAS faculty member Dr. Jeffrey Nekola in 1997. After Dr. Nekola left the university in 2006, the sale continued under the direction of Cofrin Center for Biodiversity staff member and NAS instructor Dr. Vicki Medland, in collaboration with community member Dorothy Summers and a crew of dedicated faculty, staff, students, and community volunteers.”
An heirloom plant is a type of plant with offspring that is identical to the parent, rather than a plant that can be a hybrid or a mixture of plant species. Heirloom plants are specifically grown to be the same every time the seeds are planted. The plants that the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay are selling have been around for generations and are meant to have the same taste, color, and style as the original plants were centuries ago. The plant sale focuses on buyers planting their gardens with plants designed to grow well in the northeast Wisconsin area.
Karen Stahlheber, Associate Professor in Natural & Applied Sciences at UW-Green Bay, helped organize the sale this year and other faculty, staff, students, and community volunteers. She says supporters of this annual sale are helping UWGB students and helping perpetuate the tradition of heirloom vegetable gardening. It contributes to the long-term preservation of these unique plants.
“Success with gardening is all about having the right place for your plants! Many beginners start with growing a few plants in pots. We have lots of smaller, determinate tomatoes that will do well in pots, including Bush Beefsteak, Minibel, New Big Dwarf, and Washington Cherry. It’s hard to go wrong with tomato plants, and they don’t require as long of a season as most peppers, especially the hot peppers. Herbs like basil, chives, or chervil are also good choices. Generally, the more sun you have in a spot, the better your garden plants will do.”
This year’s sale includes 119 different flowers, tomatoes, peppers, greens, and herbs. Community members and students interested can pick from an assortment through the online order portal.
“This year, demand has been high for flowers, herbs, and native plants. Everyone has their favorite tomato and pepper varieties, and we grow so many different ones that everyone can find what they need. Some of the favorite tomatoes of long-time plant sale veterans are Longkeeper (amazing ability to last into the fall and winter in storage) and Nyagous (great flavor!). The currant-type tomatoes are also vital parts of Steve Meyer’s famous salsa.”