the show

Easy Spring Bulbs

encore date: September 14, 2016

original air date: September 17, 2016

Winter and spring bulbs are such lively surprises of color and fragrance.  But in Texas heat and humidity, many are just one hit wonders. Brent Heath from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs picks the reliable bulbs that return for generations. Are fall army worms invading your lawn and garden? Daphne explains why to leave them alone.  Plant of the Week is ‘Little Ruby’ Alternanthera, a newly designated Texas Superstar. Grow this compact plant for its lovely foliage in part shade or sun. Jeff Ferris from The Natural Gardener shows how to pick the right fertilizer by the numbers. On tour, when Monica and Greg Tran expected their first child, Greg got busy planting organic, fresh-picked food.


Episode Segments

On Tour

Greg and Monica Tran First Vegetable Garden

When Monica and Greg Tran expected their first child, Greg got busy planting organic, fresh-picked food.  After restoring an old house, they tackled neglected soil, now constantly amended with homemade compost. Greg starts many of his crops from seed (including hard-to-find Asian Shishito peppers) to plant in formal beds or self-watering containers. Fruit trees cover the privacy fence. When nematodes took out his okra, he planted cover crop Elbon rye to nourish the soil and reduce the nematode population over winter.


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Question of the Week

What are these worms all over my garden and what can I do?

These are fall army worms.  In September 2015, I noticed that my lawn seemed to be moving. I squinted for a second and thought my eyes were playing tricks on me, but when I went out to the yard and bent down for a closer look, it became apparent: a zillion tiny worms were having a grand ol’ time feasting on my Bermudagrass!

I discovered that not one square inch of my garden didn’t have a few worms.  They ate the grass, but not the weeds. They tasted pink periwinkles but avoided the red.

A little research through Extension resources gave a pesticide option if I wanted to treat, but my esteemed colleagues also very wisely pointed out that there really was no reason to use a pesticide in a home lawn situation.


The worms were only eating the leaves of the grass, not the rhizomes or the roots, so in essence, they were acting like little lawn mowers. Fabulous, I thought. I won’t have to mow my lawn again until next spring!

After a relaxing day outdoors doing absolutely no work in the garden, I headed inside for the evening. And just when I thought the day couldn’t get any better, I looked out the window and saw that my yard was filled with hungry birds, of all types and species, arriving as if to a banquet.

I know that many people are squeamish about worms… and bugs, and spiders, and frogs, and snakes, but all creatures have their place in the world. And even though, understandably, you might not want to spend the day taking videos of them, allowing them to scurry under a rock, behind some leaves, or even scooping them up in your kitchen and ushering them safely back outdoors where they belong, would be a truly amazing thing to do.


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Plant of the Week

Little Ruby Alternanthera

Little Ruby Alternanthera

Little Ruby Alternanthera is a newly designated Texas Superstar. This variety, selected from a species of plants commonly known as Joseph’s coat, stays small and has beautiful foliage. With a compact growth habit and full, abundant foliage, Little Ruby gets only about a foot tall and wide. Tuck it into a shady spot and it’ll be a little more green. Plant in full sun and it will be a deeper maroon. In shade, Little Ruby will get a bit taller and need less water, and in full sun it will be more compact, maybe a bit wider, and need watering at least a couple of times a week during dry spells. You may find that it does a bit better in loose, well-drained soil with a bit of organic matter, but Little Ruby can grow in almost any soil type, except for perhaps the overly rocky. It’s very forgiving if you miss a watering or two, perking back up quickly once you see that it’s struggling and give it a drink. As a Texas Super Star, Little Ruby has been planted in Extension trial gardens around the state and shown to perform well with very little maintenance. It is a tropical plant, so in colder regions, it will be an annual. But in warmer areas, especially those that rarely see frost, it will be evergreen, lasting at least a few years in most southern landscapes.