the show

Square Foot Gardening

air date: September 12, 2020

Why is Mel Bartholomew’s innovative square foot gardening concept so valuable today? Son Steve Bartholomew from the Square Foot Gardening Foundation explains why his dad developed the concept, easy steps to make one, and how its global impact conquers hunger. In Leander, Ellen and Rick Bickling turned the kids’ old basketball court into square foot gardens and romantic outdoor living. John Dromgoole picks a healthy nursery plant by inspecting the roots. Daphne highlights viewer pictures and stories from their hands-on plant and wildlife adventures during stay-at-home pandemic summer.

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Episode Segments

On Tour

Makeover: Kids' Basketball Court and Shady Garden Design | Ellen & Rick Bickling

The How Do Gardener Rick Bickling and wife Ellen bounced off ideas for their sons’ old basketball court and a flooding garden in shade.  See how they created a vegetable “food court,” comfy outdoor living rooms, and unique destinations in a formerly grassy yard. To complement furniture and plant colors, they jazzed up the plain wooden fence with colorful picture frames.


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Question of the Week

Viewer pictures during May and June 2020 pandemic quarantine

At CTG, we’re all staying connected. Thanks to the stories you’ve shared with us and the fabulous pictures from your gardens. Here’s a wonderful story from Paradise, Texas, submitted by Carol Rugowski. Her husband Mike snapped a photo of this lovely bouquet of wildflowers that she picked and her young daughter Sydney invites solitary bees and other pollinators to her insect hotel with a special message to them all. 

Cleo Petricek’s family includes some really cute goats. Her young son Shea got a heads up review when he built them up brushing bar. They all love the water lily in the stock tank pond, where the goats grab a drink too.

In Waco, Sheila Smith’s black-eyed susans, Rudbeckia hirta, matched summers golden light in swaths guaranteed to attract all kinds of pollinators. Coneflowers are also positively magnetic for pollinating insects, offering both pollen and nectar and small birds love the seeds from coneflower and rudbeckia, both in the sunflower family. So don’t be in a hurry to clean up once the blooms are spent and beginning to fade, a charming curve bed around Sheila’s shed promises pollinator feasting on perennial rudbeckia. Annual self-seeding cosmos and perennial native Blackfoot Daisy. Clusters of plants like this present a strong visual sensation and a better chance to attract bees and butterflies, as well as birds. 

Shelly McDaniel’s summer garden in Houston invites lots of visitors. Annual pentas is a butterfly favorite and hybrid Gaillardia is irresistible to bees. 

Eastern Tiger swallowtail darted around Roy Wilson’s Arkansas garden. 

And in Dallas Mindy Curnutt was thrilled to find Swallowtail caterpillars on her dill plants. Then one morning they were gone except for a single tiny one that had been spared. She brought it inside, provided fresh dill every day and watched it grow. When it emerged for its eventual chrysalis, Mindy returned it to the garden and the cycle began anew. 

Critters also chomped her tiny cucumbers, but she managed to grow enough for a good harvest. In summer, birds, rodents and other animals quench their desperate thirst in our gardens, and also go after caterpillars to feed themselves or they’re young. 

Our gardens are lively habitats, and opportunities to view nature’s remarkable designs and solutions. Mary Jackson explains why she loves her passion flower vine: “We love to see the Gulf Fritillary butterflies lay their eggs on it. And then watch the caterpillars munch and grow. We watch them build their chrysalides. It’s really amazing to see the whole lifecycle right outside our front door.”

In San Antonio, Cynthia and Tony Medina were delighted to find this bright yellow crab spider awaiting a meal on their rose bush. Crab spiders don’t spin webs but patiently wait for a meal to drop by. Orb-weavers spin the most fantastic garden webs. 

Nancy Donner snapped this black and yellow Argiope aurantia that mastered zig zag perfection. 

Cicada killer wasps reside in Michelle and Brian Tabone’s garden. These docile solitary wasps dig underground burrows where they haul cicadas to feed their larvae. On July 4th, one cicada killer took a break from hunting to show family dog Bric A Brac its latest catch. 

And on the same day in Taylor, Marie Pavlovsky grabbed this video of a cicada emerging from its skin. 

Brian Cuthbertson found this golf ball sized red fruit in the natural area behind his house. This fruit from a native perennial vine, known as Balsam Gourd is prized by birds.

July brought George Paul a stunning Amaryllis belladonna flower to his Mabank garden in Roseville near Lubbock. 

Monica Rubalcaba’s cereus cactus stands tall against golden light. It’s striking white bloom, nestled clumsily at its base attracts bats and moths by moonlight. 

Gina and Ron Carmichael’s Madagascar palms flowered for the first time since they protected them last winter in an inexpensive greenhouse with LED lights. This show-stopping beauty is a stem succulent Pachypodium lamerei.

Desert rose, Adesnium obesum is another tropical succulent in the dogbane family Apocynaceae. In San Antonio, Mary and Rick Trujillo celebrated their gorgeous specimen of this xerophytic plant.

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