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Gravel in the Garden: Good, Bad & The Ugly

encore air date: July 14, 2018

original air date: July 16, 2016

Ecological landscape designer Elizabeth McGreevy from Droplet Land Design examines why a total gravel landscape disrupts the water and nutrient cycle. Discover her best practices for gravel in the garden. On tour in Hudson Bend above Lake Travis, Bruce McDonald saw the lake vanish before his eyes.  To respond to drought, he ripped out his front lawn for waterwise plants.  In back, he cleared a wildfire jungle for serene outdoor living rooms around ponds fed with rainwater collection. Are critters chomping your peaches?  Daphne shows how gardener Christina Pasco protects her organic peaches with a simple trick. Pep up containers and shady beds with vivid coleus. Got chiggers? John Dromgoole’s got the easy remedy for them, plus tips for grub worm control.

Episode Segments

On Tour

Drought Design for Wildlife Habitat

In Hudson Bend overlooking Lake Travis, Bruce McDonald saw the lake vanish before his eyes.  To respond to drought, he ripped out his front lawn for waterwise plants.  In back, he cleared a wildfire jungle for serene outdoor living rooms around ponds fed with rainwater collection.

Watch more "On Tour" videos on YouTube →

Question of the Week

How protect peaches from critters?

Our answer comes from gardener Christina Pasco on how she’s protecting her peaches this year!

Like most of us, Christina tried the recommended way of dealing with critters last year: she covered her plants with netting. But the netting quickly became a “hot mess” and after having daily altercations with it she decided to try something new this year: plastic strawberry containers.

Her peach tree is only two years old, but was covered in fruit. Wanting to keep birds, squirrels and other animals from stealing her harvest, Christina began collecting strawberry containers a year ago, so she’d have plenty when she needed them. Using kitchen scissors, she cut extra holes for ventilation, and for rain.

Christina reports that these containers work great, but you might need larger containers, like those for salads, for larger branches. She secured the containers with electrical tape when she noticed that crafty squirrels had figured out how to open them!

When I first saw Christina’s photos, I was curious whether this system really worked, since it seemed to me that the container would hold too much moisture and probably cause the fruit to rot. But Christina says not in her case, and that she’s been very successful. She does suggest checking the containers frequently for ants and other small insects, in case they get trapped inside. Thanks Christina!

Watch more Question of the Week videos on YouTube →

Plant of the Week

Coleus

Coleus

Coleus is a tropical annual that’s well worth the effort of replanting every year. The species is so variable, you could potentially plant an entire landscape of it, and have dozens of plants, with no two looking the same. The vibrant foliage comes in patterns of almost every conceivable color. From neon pink to bright orange; deep magenta, lime green and everything in between. Hardy only to USDA zone 10, coleus is a true tropical species that will die each winter in the landscape, but would survive easily in containers moved into a greenhouse. You can also take cuttings to grow in warmth during winter. They are some of the easiest plants to propagate from cuttings, so if you’ve always wanted to try your hand at plant propagation, cut about several six inch pieces of new growth and place in a small container of good quality potting soil, in summer, or again, to grow a favorite in a greenhouse or bright window in winter. It looks great in containers and hanging baskets, and performs best in bright shade. There are a few newer cultivars that are labeled ‘Sun’ or ‘Super Sun’ Coleus, but even those will be happiest if protected from the harsh afternoon rays here in the south. They do require adequate moisture, so plant in beds close to the house, where they can easily be given a bit of extra water through the summer. Adding compost to beds prior to planting will also help increase water holding capacity, as will an inch or so of mulch around new transplants. Plant in masses for a swathe of color, even using three or four different cultivars in a single bed, since they look so different from each other. Or use coleus in large containers to draw dramatic attention to front entrances or on patios. In addition to the wide variety of colors, coleus are also available in all shapes and sizes, so you can plant tall ones in back, short ones in the middle, and super short ones in the front. Our viewer pictures this week come from Kathryne Harte of this cicada. And from Mary Alice Lantz for  her Monarch caterpillar on her tropical milkweed that didn’t freeze back this year.

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