Wingra Park Orchard Garden

History

Since 2010 Madison Parks Division and the DMNA have a five-year lease agreement allowing a small orchard, garden and decorative flowers to be maintained by volunteers for the enjoyment of the public.  The 130 by 40 ft plot is located in the northeast corner of Wingra Park, near Monroe Street.

New Development in the Garden--Jumping Worms

Wisconsin and the garden have unwelcome new residents called jumping worms.  Watch this video to see why their name is suitable.  The worms are in Gallistel Woods in the Arboretum, Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Maple Bluff, and many other locations including Wingra's garden.

Jumping worms are native to the Korean peninsula and Japan.  They are present in many states, especially in the South.  The major concern is that the jumping worms consume vegetation and plant roots so they negatively impact forested areas.  They cause soil to have a grainy appearance resembling coffee grounds that has low fertility and poor water holding capacity.  There is no product available to gardeners that selectively kills jumping worms.  Research is ongoing.

What Can We Do to Slow Their Spread?

The primary rule is Don't move soil with jumping worms to new locations

  • No transplants unless all the soil is washed off the plant roots.
  • Clean all soil off shoes, gloves, clothing, tools, equipment, planting containers, etc. before leaving a site where jumping worms are present.

How Can We Tell if Jumping Worms Are Present?

The adult worms are killed over winter, but the egg cases survive and begin to hatch once the soil warms up in late June or July.  The best time to look for the adults is late August and September.  The adults are generally close to the surface so digging can often reveal them.  A solution of 5 T dried mustard dissolved in 2 quarts of water acts as an irritant and brings worms to the soil surface.  Jumping worms replace the earthworms that we are used to seeing in our gardens such as night crawlers.

Goals

The Wingra Park Orchard Garden (WPOG) provides:

  • edibles and floral beauty to the park,
  • organic fruits such as cherries, peaches, juneberries, raspberries and vegetables to park users, volunteers and the public,
  • a butterfly garden to attract monarchs, and
  • nursery beds for native woodland and prairie plants to replace less desirable vegetation in the park.

Projects

The annual calendar for management of the WPOG looks like this:

Jan - Feb   Select and order seeds, plants and bulbs for the season.

February - Prune trees.

March - Start tender seedlings.

April - Begin soil preparation and cleanup of beds.

May - Plant seeds and seedlings. 

Late June - early July - Cherries are ripe.

June - September  Weed, water, mulch and harvest fruits, flowers and edibles.

October - November Cleanup planting beds and remove any materials that may harbor plant pests.

Orchard Observations 2017

The rain and high humidity created ideal conditions for fungal growth on the cherry trees.  We'll be doing more pruning to improve air circulation.  One cherry tree was removed.  We lost one peach tree to splitting and cut back the second.  We will be planting more peach trees because they have been so successful.  The fruits were as delicious as anything available from a grocery store.

Volunteers

Volunteers are welcome to provide suggestions, comments or labor.  Contact Percy Mather at 233-1955 or by email to percy.mather@gmail.com.  Much can be accomplished by working for an hour or less.  Tools and instructions will be provided.