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Garden Talks

Saturday March 28th, 2015

Saturday 10:30am - Composting By The Vegetable Garden
Sheryl Williams : Sheryl Williams has had her hands in the dirt her whole life. She has a degree in Agricultural Education from Oregon State University. A Travis County Master Gardener since 2010, she is also a Compost Specialist certified by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. A dozen different ways to collect and process compost are on display in the botanical garden. Learn the basics of composting and secret lives of microbes from an expert at the Composting Demonstration Area in the Pioneer Village at Zilker Botanical Garden, across from the Red Barn Blacksmith Shop. Come early, only Sheryl’s talk is being held in this part of the garden.

Saturday 11:30 a.m. - Design an Organic Herb Garden
Cathy Slaughter : Cathy holds a Bachelor of Arts degree. She taught art at elementary and high school level before turning her talents to plants. She spent 10 years in the landscaping and nursery business with experience in sales, propagation, managing a greenhouse, and landscape job coordination. This was good training for Cathy’s next undertaking; in 1989 she and her husband Sam started a very successful wholesale nursery business. Having received their certified organic status from the state of Texas, they grow organic vegetables along with a wide variety of organic culinary and medicinal herbs. Cathy has been a member of Austin Herb Society for more than 25 years during which she has held positions of newsletter editor, VP of programs, and co-chair of HerbFest—once the club’s annual fundraiser. She writes a bi-monthly column for Homegrown Magazine. For many years, Cathy was a member of Texas Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association, also Herb Association of Texas and the Texas Department of Agriculture Go Texan program.

Saturday 12:30 p.m. - Growing Organic Heirloom Tomatoes
Tim P. Miller : Tim operates Millberg Farm in Kyle, Texas, a 5-acre certified organic operation specializing in heirloom vegetables, especially tomatoes, multiplying onions, leeks, garlic, herbs, plus 140 fruit trees. Using various innovative planting methods, Tim has produced quality crops since 1989 without ever pumping water from the aquifer. His Zero Net Watering has earned him several Water Conservation awards. Tim has been employed by Austin Community Gardens for 9 years, during which time he taught gardening classes, designed 25 new sites, and taught at 9 school gardens. A life long gardener, Tim has challenged himself to produce tomatoes year round, operating his farm with no tractor, no drip irrigation, and using only hand tools. The fruits of his labor, his produce, is marketed through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

Saturday 1:30 p.m. - Organic Gardening Basics
Forrest Arnold : Forrest credits his interest in organic gardening to his Aunt Joyce, who successfully gardened organically before it was known as "organic gardening” and who showed him how successful and easy organic gardening could be! He now has 43 years experience in organic gardening and proclaims the joys of growing food without exposure to pesticide contamination and eating nutritious, tasty, organic produce. Forrest has produced public service radio spots, has been a guest on Austin gardening radio shows and on the PBS program “Central Texas Gardener” and has had several articles published to promote organic gardening in Central Texas. He is currently president of The Austin Organic Gardeners, a 70-year-old club, and is the unofficial “Keeper of the Educational Materials” for the Club.  He is also a Certified Master Gardener in Hays County.

Saturday 2:30pm - Alternative Forms of Gardening
Marian Stasney : Marian holds a degree in mathematics from UT and has for 14 years run a research analysis company. A Travis County Master Gardener for the past 10 years, she has completed specialist training in citraculture, greenhouse management, vermiposting and vegetable gardening. Marian will cover keyhole gardens, which are drought tolerant, mostly self-watering, intensively planted, and produce a larger than average yield. The keyhole design is easy on the back, handicap accessible, and very efficient, using recycled paper and tree trimmings as well as garden and kitchen waste; compost never looked so good. She will discuss two additional alternative gardening practices: construction of wicking beds, a solution to gardening in times of drought and hugelkultur, a German word for a very different kind of raised bed gardening. Give yourself and your family a healthy future by learning how to grow a productive garden in spite of the drought.

Saturday 3:30pm - 1 inch Rain x 1000 sq ft Roof = 600 Gallons
Ed Parken : Ed Parken is a retired mechanical engineer with BS and MS degrees from Ohio State University. He has been a Master Gardener since 2003, and currently serves on the Austin Area Garden Council Board and Zilker Garden Festival Committee. As VP – Special Projects and a member of the Horticulture Committee, Ed is the driving force behind the ponds’ repair projects and the streambed improvement plan for Zilker Botanical Garden. Fulfilling one of Isamu Taniguchi’s dreams for the Japanese Garden, Ed oversaw the construction of the cypress gate on Lauren’s Trail near the Lotus Pond. He has been involved in the planning and installing of several rainwater harvesting systems, including the two large collection sites in Zilker Botanical Garden and the one (in photo) at his home.

Sunday March 29, 2015

Sunday 11:30 pm - Keeping Food Local : the Cooperative Solution
Don Jackson : Don Jackson is an urban planner and Research Manager at Pegasus Planning and Development: an economic development consulting firm in Austin, whose focus is on triple bottom line interventions, including promoting sustainable agriculture for economic and residential development. He holds two Masters Degrees in Community and Regional Planning and Sustainable Design from UT-Austin. A founding Board member of Black Star Co-op, Don has been a leader in other cooperatively-owned and/or managed businesses in our area. He also sits on the Board of Austin Cooperative Business Association, a local trade association for cooperatives of all types sponsored by the National Cooperative Business Association. Moontower Community Agricultural Co-op supports the local food sector by creating direct relationships between farmers, producers and consumers.

Sunday 12:30 pm - Sustainable Landscaping, “Walk the Talk”
Denise Delaney : Denise holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Horticulture from the University of Nebraska and has over 25 years of professional horticultural experience in Central Texas. Beginning her career working on a private estate in Austin, she was then employed by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center before, during and after their move to their current location. As Director of Horticulture, Denise was responsible for the extensive native plant gardens; she started the Garden Festival & Native Plant Sale held biannually at The Wildflower Center. Since 2004, Denise has been the Grow Green program coordinator for the City of Austin’s Watershed Protection Department.  An expert on gardening education programs promoting sustainable landscaping practices for the Austin area, Denise will walk the talk through the Green Garden, a City-sponsored living demonstration of water conservation and organic growing practices, with a focus on beautifying the landscape and attracting wildlife in the most natural way. You will never have to mow the grass again!

Sunday 1:30 pm - Roses For Every Landscape
Tom Jenkins : Tom earned a bachelor of History degree from UT, then taught high school math for 9 years before pursuing his passion for gardening. He completed the master gardener program in the second class Travis County offered.  Tom was employed by Tex-Zen and worked several plots of his own at Sunshine Community Gardens. He became the education director at Peaceable Kingdom, a small farm demonstration and market garden. Tom returned to Austin to work for Barton Springs Nursery where he was a retail salesperson for the next 17 years. He is now employed by The Great Outdoors where he maintains the trees and shrubs department and all the roses— hybrids, earthkind and “old” roses. Photo of Cecile Brunner (Sweetheart Rose), a water efficient old rose with an unbelievable fragrance for a boutonniere size flower.

Sunday 2:30 pm - Beekeeping: A Hobby with a Mission
Tanya Phillips : Tanya Phillips is currently a Journeyman Beekeeper, President of the Travis County Beekeepers Association, and has 40+ hives she keeps with her husband Chuck. He makes all the beehives and helps her tend bees while she teaches bee-ginner and hands-on classes to new beekeepers in their home apiary. She also enjoys taking her ‘bee produce’ to make wax items, lip balms, lotion bars, soap and more that she sells, along with their raw honey, at local markets. They have enjoyed hosting the Central Texas Tour de Hives the past two years. Tanya will talk about hobby beekeeping and other ways to help attract bees and native pollinators to your back yard!

Sunday 3:30 pm - Drought Survival Tools for Your Yard: Water Rebate Program
Chris Charles : Chris Charles is a Conservation Program Associate with the Water Conservation Division, Austin Water.  He holds a Masters of Landscape Architecture from the School of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.  Chris' work in the private sector included large scale neighborhood planning and small scale residential landscape design.  Chris joined Austin Water in 2011. He currently manages the Water Conservation Division Landscape Programs, is an active presenter in Austin Water's speakers' bureau, and is affiliated with the City of Austin's Grow Green Program.  You can find more information about the Drought Survival Tools for Your Yard Rebate Program and the City of Austin's water conservation efforts at: