Speakers Bureau

We’re thrilled to offer the presentations listed below.  To request a speaker use the form at the bottom of this page.  And see the list of scheduled speaking events on the Events page. A request form is at the bottom of this page.

Keys to Successful Composting

This presentation is a basic primer on home composting and is suitable for people of all skill levels. It explains the benefits of composting, for both the gardener and the environment, and the process by which nature turns organic materials such as garden and kitchen waste into a useful soil amenity. Learn how to site, start and maintain a compost pile, what items should and should not be put into one, the proper ratio of “greens” and “browns” to keep the pile cooking, how to diagnose problems, and how to use finished compost to improve your garden.  A short video from Rutgers Cooperative Extension reviews the concepts in the presentation.

Right Plant Right Place

This program is a great general gardening primer. It answers all the basic questions one should address when selecting plants and shrubs for a garden. Learn about USDA plant hardiness zones, and the differing light, water, soil and pH needs that determine where (or whether) a plant can thrive. Learn how to amend your soil to improve drainage and fertility, or reduce compaction, and how to use mulch correctly to discourage weeds and retain moisture. The presentation introduces locally-appropriate plant species that are suited to different garden conditions, and which provide variety in the garden – different foliage colors, textures, seasonal interest, growth habit/shape, and bloom time.

Native Plant Gardening Part I: Native Plants, Ecological Impact

Increasingly, gardeners are transitioning their gardens to plants that are native to their geographic region. Native plants tend to be better suited to local conditions, and therefore need less resources and pampering than ‘exotics’ (plants native to other regions) to thrive. And they are not invasive. Native plants also provide habitat for local birds, bees, butterflies and other wildlife, which evolved concurrently with regional trees and plants. Learn about the food web, the benefits of diversity in the garden, plant nomenclature, and some of the (NJ) native trees, shrubs and plants that can be an asset to the home garden while also providing habitat for wildlife.

Native Plant Gardening Part II: Going Native in Your Garden

This presentation reviews the concept and benefits of native plants, then goes further to examine the factors one should consider when developing a landscape plan – how to analyze the soil, sun and other conditions, to determine what native plants to include in a garden, and where.  Learn about additional trees, shrubs and plants native to New Jersey that can be an asset to the home garden while also providing wildlife habitat.

Starting a Community Garden

A community garden offers a place for local residents to grow vegetables if they don’t have a yard or a suitable plot where they live. Community gardens can yield produce for personal use, or for donation to a local food bank. Gardening together offers an opportunity to learn from experienced local gardeners, and to meet and collaborate with one’s neighbors. But establishing a community garden is a big undertaking. This presentation identifies the many issues a town or organization will need to consider and plan for when establishing a community garden – types of gardens, fencing options, water and light conditions, soil testing, mulch, budgeting/estimating costs, maintenance and more.  Includes a comparison of two gardens. A great overview for groups considering this type of project.

Keeping Pests out of the Garden Part I: Integrated Pest Management for the Home and Community Garden

This presentation explains the practice of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to deal with insects and diseases in the vegetable garden. IPM utilizes an array of cultural, mechanical, biological and chemical methods to keep pests and diseases at an acceptable level in the garden. Learn how the selection of resistant plants, crop rotation, proper watering and fertilizing, frequent inspections for problems, and encouraging beneficial insects can minimize garden problems.  The presentation identifies some of the most common garden insect pests, and offers specific techniques to deal with them.

Keeping Pests out of the Garden Part II: Key Plants, Key Pests

This presentation builds on Part 1, providing a more detailed discussion of common plant diseases and pests found in the vegetable garden, with a focus on the most likely host plants for specific problems, how to identify them, and what to do about them.

Harvesting and Food Safety in the Home and Community Garden

You may know how to plant, nurture and grow vegetables, but do you know the best practices for harvesting that bounty? This presentation gives advice on the best time to pick specific vegetables –tomatoes, beans, peppers, watermelons, kale and collard greens, cabbage, lettuce – and how to remove them correctly from the plant and store them for use.  Vegetables are good for you, but vegetables can cause serious illness if they become contaminated with listeria, E-coli or salmonella, or chemicals from a prior land use, improper manure applications or water runoff from another site. Learn how to evaluate a garden’s risk potential, and how to create a plan to monitor risks and avoid problems. Although this presentation is oriented toward food safety in community farming, the principles apply to any food gardening.

Hydroponic Gardening

Hydroponics is the practice of growing plants using nutrient-enriched water. This “soil-less” method of producing vegetables and herbs, although not at all new, is becoming increasingly popular on a commercial scale, particularly in urban areas where land is scarce or contaminated. There are many advantages, including the ability to grow produce year-round. Camden County Master Gardeners work closely with staff at the County’s hydroponic demonstration greenhouse in Blackwood, NJ, producing tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce without soil. This presentation explains their experience, as well as the different types of hydroponic setups – ebb and flow, floating, drip/vertical, aeroponic towers, aquaponics, etc.  Learn about the advantages and drawbacks of hydroponics, the learning curve for novices, and the costs and resources needed to be successful. Whether or not you plan to venture into the world of hydroponic gardening, this presentation is highly interesting.

Vegetable Gardening 101

Vegetable Gardening 101 provides beginning gardeners a simple step by step approach to a successful harvest.  This lecture begins with planning the garden, explaining site selection, garden layout options, and soil preparation.  The discussion moves to plant selection, so attendees can make informed choices on vegetables that will suit their site, garden size, and individual tastes.  Cool weather and warm weather crops are covered, including recommended planting times for both.  Planting techniques for direct seeding and transplants are described, and which plant varieties should be grown using which planting method.  Care and maintenance throughout the growing season are included, such as watering, weeding, and pest control.  Picking times and safe harvesting techniques complete the talk.

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