The Zesty Garden

The Zesty Garden is UPR's original gardening and outdoors program. The Zesty Garden is more than just the usual garden conversation show.

Expect insider information about Utah hiking and biking trails along with their flora and fauna. Learn what plants you should avoid putting in your landscape with the Wait, Wait. . .Don’t Plant That! segment. Literary musings will encourage your soul and inform your mind.

To round out the hour, show host Bryan Earl will infuse his own green thumb experiences along with your questions and comments.

The Zesty Garden airs Thursday at 10 a.m. on Utah Public Radio.

Contact the Zesty Garden:

You can catch weekly updates and info for your garden and outdoor life on the Zesty Garden Twitter account.

If you want to send us a message, please click here.

Additional Gardening Info:

Plant Pest Advisory Sign-Up
Horticulture/Dormant Spray Demystified
Insect Vectors of Vegetable Virus Diseases

Image of Book, The Natural World of Winnie-The-Pooh
Timber Press

First is an interview with the author of "The Natural World of Winnie the Pooh," then a recommendation to plant the Desert Holly, and in-depth look as to why leaves are red.

Photo of a blood-sucking moth

On Zesty Garden today is Diane Alston with news about a blood-sucking moth, a natural born pest found for stink bugs, and a comparison of the natural repellents often used for mosquitoes. And on Petals and Prose, stay tuned for great information about….  Chicken. 

Link for Laurie Colwin Roast Chicken Recipe

Versailles Palace and Gardens

In 1661, Louis XIV commissioned André Le Nôtre with the design and laying out of the gardens of Versailles which, in his view, were just as important as the Château. The works were undertaken at the same time as those for the palace and took forty years to complete requiring enormous amounts of work that sometimes took whole regiments. Today on The Zesty Garden, you’ll learn how and why Versailles and its gardens were built.

Click Here for Versailles Web Site

Image of Zucchini Bread

The first general frost of the year has finally hit Cache Valley and other parts of the state. Mark Anderson will be on this Thursday’s Zesty Garden at 10am to help us close up the garden shop. There are also two recipes for  yummy zucchini bread (see links below), plus Helen Cannon reads an essay about giant pumpkin growing.

Gingery Olive Oil Zucchini Bread w/Lemon Glaze

My New Favorite Zucchini Bread w/Orange & Rosemary

Image of Book: Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening
Chelsea Green Publishing

African Violets, Tuscany, Italy, and How to Grow Nutrient-Dense, Soil-Sprouted Greens in Less Than 10 Days...  All on today's Zesty Garden.

Photo of book, Coffee for Roses
St. Lynn's Press /

We revisit a conversation with C.L. Fornari about her book, Coffee for Roses...and 70 Other Misleading Myths About Backyard Gardening. And in Petals and Prose, Helen Cannon reads about what happens when you visit the places of Thoreau.

Photo of Pumpkin Regatta
David Sullivan / Utah Giant Pumpkin Growers

How do mosquitoes use man-made roads to travel? Should you really grow Catmint? How big was this year's giant pumpkin in Utah? An essay on Cooking and Stealing? Listen to today's Zesty Garden.


No frost has been reported yet in most areas of the state, but that doesn’t mean that cooler evenings…and shorter days…aren’t having an effect. Today on the Zesty Garden, USU Extension Vegetable Specialist Dan Drost helps you mitigate some of the cooling issues that might be keeping your tomatoes or melons from ripening. Helen Cannon remembers Oliver Sacks on Petals & Prose.

Link to USU Gardening App

Photo of Bio Char

How can partially burned wood help the soil and your plants? We'll look at the possible benefits of biochar on today's Zesty Garden. It’s also tomato day as we talk about how to preserve tomatoes, or consider roasting and freezing them on Petals and Prose. There’s also a recipe for a delicious tomato pie. But first, learn about the results of a small fruit taste panel. Which berries were voted the most flavorful?

Link to Tomato Pie Recipe

Link to Raspberry Trial Info

Photo of a split coconut

Why are there so many species of stink bug (ask Diane Alston)? What is the best way to can tomatoes (from Adrie Roberts)? What is a coconut (Petals and Prose)?

Image of Almond Joy Candy Bar

Sometimes you feel like a nut, but not when you’re a coconut. Disect an Almond Joy in Petals and Prose, in addition to landscape architecture in India, and how to eat (not pull!) weeds.

Photo of Winter Squash

Hopefully, you harvested your garlic back in late June/early July. But if you’ve never planted garlic before, when is the right time of the year to put it in the ground? How about right now! Dan Drost, USU Extension Vegetable Specialist is in studio today and will help you with your gardening questions, including how to pick and store winter squash. Jack Greene joins us for a conversation about Utah’s fall colors. Then we revisit a Petals and Prose as Nancy Williams reads from How Carrots Won the Trojan War.

Photo of the book: The Triumph of Seeds
Basic Books

A Seed is a Seed is a Seed? Not all are created equal. Some won’t last a day without staying moist while most keep out moisture as they remain in stasis for days, months or even years. A seed can be thought of as a baby plant inside a box, with its lunch. Some have not touched a bit of their lunch while others have consumed everything, including the thermos! On Petals and Prose today, Helen Cannon reads about how seeds germinate, especially the avocado. But first we’ll have a conversation with USU Extension Fruit Specialist Brent Black. Have you ever considered using a container to grow fruit? Then we’ll hear from Grant Cardon on the state of our soils. Why are they the way they are? He’ll have some important information on the use of chelated iron.

Image of Crane Fly

The cultured landscapes that surround our homes are, for the most part, not native. While many of the plants in these landscapes look beautiful, they usually require a LOT of extra water, and they don’t attract the insects that are needed by native bird species to survive. In the Petals and Prose segment of Zesty Garden, learn what can happen with just a little bit of change. Native birds come back! But first…  When is a giant mosquito not a giant mosquito? USU Extension Entomologist Diane Alston is in studio today to discuss the Crane Fly.

Photo of Atlantic Giant Pumpkin
Lindsay Bench

What’s orange, is watered about every 10 minutes, and has a baby-cam posted so parents can see how it’s doing. It’s a giant pumpkin! Today we check in with Lindsay Bench from the Utah Giant Pumpkin Growers to see how her pumpkin is doing. Then Dan Drost will give some tips on how to pick a ripe melon.  He’ll also help you get over the loss of your tomatoes to curly top. In Petals and Prose, Janett Warner recommends the Blue Grama Grass. Then on Petals and Prose, Nancy Williams re-visits the San Francisco Zen Center of Green Gulch Farm with a reading from Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate.

Photo of Edith Warner's Chocolate Cake

Heat has a way of both helping and hindering your vegetables. On today’s Zesty Garden, USU Extension Vegetable Specialist Dan Drost explains why knowing what you’re growing can help you mitigate what Mother Nature may want to throw at your garden. Then in Petals and Prose…Today is the 70th anniversary of the dropping of an atomic bomb on Hiroshima Japan. Nancy Williams reads from an essay about a woman who lived close to where the bomb was developed in New Mexico. Look for the mentioned chocolate cake recipe!

Link to Chocolate Cake Recipe...Scroll Through Link

A photo of blackberry pie with a dolop of whipped cream.

The blackberries…they are a ripenin’. Today on the Zesty Garden, USU Extension Fruit Specialist Brent Black will talk about how to pick the perfect berry. Color may only be one part of the equation. We’ll also look at other fruit ripening issues such as bitter pit and coryneum blight. Then on Petals and Prose, take a few minutes and listen to an essay about grass as the staff of life. 

photo of red onions

What’s red, can be found in your kitchen and are beneficial as they munch through your leftovers and create a wonderfully rich compost? I’m talking about the worms of vermicomposting.  Also on the program is a discussion with Dan Drost about harvesting onions. In Going Native! you’ll hear all about including the wonderful, native Fire Chalice. Then in The Green Room it's Pathos. In our latest Insect Bites, we look at the science of Mellisopolynology (huh?). Then in Petals and Prose, it's pests as guests.

Photo of Mormon Tea
Andy Gabor via Pinterest

How to have a citrus cocktail of several different fruits on one tree will be heard in Petals and Prose. Diane Alston gives an update on grasshoppers, coddling moth, and the greater peach tree borer. Learn about including Mormon Tea in your landscape with the Going Native! segment.

Photo of New Book: Good Garden Bugs

Learn about the insects in your garden that benefit your growing efforts with an interview about Good Garden Bugs by Mary Gardiner.  On Wait, Wait...Don't Plant That!, Jerry Goodspeed disses the dastardly Bishop's Weed. Then learn how to attract birds to your yard on Petals and Prose with Nancy Williams.

Photo of tomatoes on a vine

One or two days of plus 95 degrees don’t typically adversely affect vegetables. But stretch a few days to a couple of weeks, then you’ll see heat stress issues. On the Zesty Garden, Dan Drost discusses several ways to help mitigate the heat, including mulches and, oddly enough, shade. We’ll also discuss what vegetables can still be planted this season. Then on Petals and Prose, Helen Cannon takes a second look at dormant plant packages…or seeds.

Photo of Poppy Mallow

When it comes to plants, I’ve never really had much of a problem growing them, that is…until I tried growing an orchid. I can keep it alive for a year but it gradually just dies on me. It’s kind of embarrassing for this gardening show host. However, after a conversation I had last year with Shane Taylor of Cactus and Tropicals, my orchid thumb is now green! You’ll learn today what you need to do to keep your own Moth Orchid, or Phaleonopsis, growing well. And are you considering planting a Norway Maple? Well…don’t. You’ll learn why in a revisit with USU Extension Forestry Specialist, Mike Kuhns.  In Going Native! you’ll learn about the lovely Poppy Mallow or Wine Cups (it blooms into fall with 3-4” magenta purple blossoms). In Bug Bites, it’s all about growing the right type of milkweed to help the Monarch Butterfly populations, then finally in Petals and Prose, Nancy Williams finishes with reading about bees.

Varroa Mite on Honey Bee

Seeds are a marvel of nature’s creation. Some are tough enough to withstand the blows of a hammer yet readily germinate under the right conditions. And from such a tiny object great things are produced. Helen Cannon reads a favorite essay about seeds on today’s Petals and Prose. But first is a conversation with Diane Alston, USU Extension Entomologist. Varroa mites are a major pest of honeybees. They have learned to smell like a bee in order not to be drummed out of the hive. They are essentially getting through the door and reaching the inner sanctum by using bees’ own complex communication codes, and if needed, they can change their scent within a matter of days. Then on our Going Native! segment I have a conversation with Janett Warner of Wildland Nursery in Joseph. You’ll want to consider planting the thin leaf alder in your landscape.

Photo of Two Sandhill Cranes

Herbs have different tastes to different people. Today on the Zesty Garden, I have a discussion with Darla and Michelle from our Tasty Trek series. You’ll learn how to grow herbs, both indoors and out, and how you can use them in your cooking. Even the more obscure, but readily accessible herbs, like French tarragon, should not be forgotten. And in our Bug Bites segment, I have a discussion with Diane Alston, USU’s Extension Entomologist, about some interesting studies concerning mosquitoes. A certain species has apparently learned to spread from area to area by traveling the road less traveled. And on Petals and Prose, Nancy Williams reads about the Sandhill Crane.

photo of hands with potato beans

Now that the May deluge seems to be over…at least for the time being…it’s time to turn your attention to getting those warm season crops in before it’s too late. If you’ve already planted them, in some cases it may be better to replant rather than try and nurse plants along to recovery. Today on the Zesty Garden, USU Extension Vegetable Specialist Dan Drost is here to take your questions and comments. There's also a Petals and Prose from Helen Cannon about the development of the potato bean.