Saturday, September 10, 2011

2011 Highlands Garden Conference

Every four years the Yavapai County Master Gardeners organize a gardening conference.   The conference gives us a great opportunity to think out of the box.  It’s a time for us to learn new things, maybe expand our horizons, widen our world view.  This year’s conference will hopefully do all of those things.  Below is a bit of information about the speakers.  Don’t forget about the pre-conference tours.  Registration is open until October 13.  Late registration rates do apply, but it's worth it.
The keynote speakers will be selling and signing their books after their programs.

Dr. Linda Chalker  Scott has been poking holes in gardening dogma or confirming our sometimes crazy ideas for years.  Pick a subject, mulches, fertilizers, pruning, you name it she has done research to find out what really works or not, scientifically.  She has a several websites, her university website: ( and along with a number of other horticulture professors a blog:

Her topic:  Garden Myths: practices and products:  The number of garden products on the market is dizzying – which ones are good?  Which are a waste of your money?  And which cause more harm than good to your garden?  This seminar will begin with a brief overview of how to interpret marketing claims, with a particular focus on scientific credibility.  We’ll then look at three case studies of popular gardening products and determine whether they benefit your gardens – or simply someone else’s wallet.  At the end of seminar we’ll consider some simple, inexpensive, yet effective alternatives for a sustainable, healthy garden.

 Our second keynote speaker is Dr. Whitney Cransahw from Colorado State University where he is an Extension specialist.  Author of several books he brings not only years of experience but a love for the topic. He will be doing two programs, the morning keynote and a session in the afternoon.

His keynote is:  Gardening for Insects - or Not!  The types of choices gardeners make in terms of plant selection and landscaping can have major impacts on the types of insects that will be found in the yard and garden.  Some of these insects can be considered desirable because they are attractive (e.g., butterflies), have interesting habits (e.g., hummingbird moths), are important pollinators (e.g., bees) or assist in the control of pest species.  Others create problems.  This discussion with consider how to manipulate garden designs to attract - or avoid - several common insects.

Session:  Recognizing Natural Enemies of Insect Pests (Life Styles of the Swift and Vicious)  Assisting the management of all insects are various natural enemies - predators that and hunt and consume pest insects, lethal parasitoids that develop internally, and pathogens.  Although some of these are readily recognized by gardeners, such as lady beetles, others are less well known.  Furthermore, certain life stages, such as eggs or larvae, may not be well identified.  This discussion will review the most common natural enemies of garden insects, including their identification, general habits, and conservation.

Other sessions include

There's a snake in my garden! Is it dangerous? Are there more of them nearby? Everything you need to know about reptiles and amphibians of Yavapai county from an Arizona herpetologist. Learn how to distinguish between a rattlesnake and harmless impostors, what to do if you see one, and get expert tips on how to keep them out of your yard. Live rattlesnakes from Yavapai county will be on-hand to show you exactly what to look for and dispel myths surrounding our most iconic desert animal."

Drip Irrigation for the Home Gardens:  Frank Martin will be discussing the use and installation of simple drip irrigation systems for the home garden and landscape plants.  It will include information on components of the various systems, included emitters, filters, pressure regulators and the appropriate distribution system. I heard he will talk a bit about rainwater systems too!

Would you like delicious fresh eggs every day from your very own chickens?  Rachel Bess will show you how easy it is to keep laying hens in your backyard year round, even in the city!
      Chickens make great pets, efficient bug and weed eaters and excellent soil tillers, not to mention that they provide us with wonderful fresh eggs. Learn everything you want to know about how to raise chickens in your backyard. It's easy, fun and very rewarding!

And there is more! New Plant Selections from Mountain States Nursery. Integrated Pest Management by a representative from Arbico who specializes in beneficial insects. Abiotic Factors on Plants, what?  Most people don’t really knows what this is, but it’s all those things that affect plant growth that you don’t think about. Zen Mocarski from Arizona Game and Fish will be talking about Urban Wildlife Issues.  You can ask him what to do with large problem pests. Gene Twaronite will talk about Native Cold Hardy Cactus.  Since Gene is from the Prescott area he knows what works best for this area.

Register now!  Hope to see you there.

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