Better Gardening through Science

Master Gardener Jim Burt helps participants register for the seminar. Photo: KCMGA.

Master Gardeners’ Fall Seminar Features Local Speakers

On Saturday, November 12, 2022, the Live, Love, Local, Learn seminar was held at The Porch at FBC Kaufman. Sponsored by the Kaufman County Master Gardeners, the annual fall seminar featured local speakers and topics of general interest to home and small business gardeners: aquaponics, self-watering growing beds and containers, and backyard chickens. 

Jennifer Baker of H2O Grow talked about the basics of aquaponics (growing fish and plants together), using her business as an example of  and the process of starting an aquaponics business. Baker, a former high school sciences teacher who now has an instructional technology-support role at Kaufman High School, became interested in aquaponics while teaching the basics to her high school students. After doing a lot of research, she and her husband Chris travelled to Wisconsin to learn from Nelson and Pade Aquaponics (US aquaponics experts with more than 30 years of experience). They launched their business in January of 2020. 

Jennifer Baker of H2O Grow talks about aquaponics. Photo: KCMGA.
Jennifer Baker of H2O Grow talks about aquaponics. Photo: KCMGA.

Master Gardener Shari Curran, whose hobby of raising backyard chickens has grown to compete with her love of gardening,  passes along her first-hand knowledge of raising chickens. She discussed which breeds are best for meat and for egg production, discussed some of the potential problems you might encounter, and offered tips to help you more easily navigate the journey to chicken keeper. 

Master Gardener Shari Curran spoke about raising backyard chickens. Photo: KCMGA.
Master Gardener Shari Curran spoke about raising backyard chickens. Photo: KCMGA.

Kari O’Donald Rough of The Charter Room and Larry Vzarlik of Vzarlik Farm,  demonstrated and explained a type of  self-watering raised bed that make managing the moisture level of plants much easier..  Rough uses these beds to grow the gorgeous ornamental plants she offers at the Charter Room, and Mr. Vzarlik, who designed these beds, has used them on his farm of several years.  

After the presentation, Rough and Vzarlik demonstrated planting a self-watering container, which was then auctioned to participants for the benefit of Kaufman County Master Gardeners. Many thanks for their, and the buyer’s, generosity. 

Self-watering bed (wooden) and smaller self-watering containers. Photo: KCMGA.
Self-watering bed (wooden) and smaller self-watering containers. Photo: KCMGA.
Water piping in the bottom of the self-watering bed. These beds can be made to much larger sizes, if you want. Photo: KCMGA.
Water piping in the bottom of the self-watering bed. These beds can be made to much larger sizes, if you want. Photo: KCMGA.
Kari Rough and Larry Vzarlek demonstrate the construction of a small self-watering container. Photo: KCMGA.
Kari Rough and Larry Vzarlek demonstrate the construction of a small self-watering container. Photo: KCMGA.

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