Mike McGrath hosting You Bet Your Garden radio show

You Bet Your Garden: The Radio Show for Everything Garden-Related

You Bet Your Garden is a national one-hour long radio show that airs in Philadelphia out of WHYY-FM weekly. The host, Mike McGrath, spends his time giving out gardening tips and vital pieces of advice to dedicated or beginner gardeners far and wide. As a result, novice or experienced gardeners alike can learn how to fend off the garden and household pests more efficiently, without the use of toxic chemicals, among many other gardening tips.

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You Bet Your Garden is all about caring for lawns and landscapes and growing organic food supplies in the most extreme weather conditions like excessive heat, lousy soil or unending rain. Follow Mike as he defends greens from deer or baby plants from vicious slug attacks, whacks weeds and saves all sorts of plants across the nation every week on You Bet Your Garden radio show. He will provide you with the most accurate information; sometimes light-hearted mispronounced Latin words, and family-safe gardening information most useful for tending to your green space properly.

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Who Is Mike McGrath?

Today, America sees Mike McGrath as one of the top gardening experts of the nation. However, things were a lot different 30 years ago. In one interview he revealed his personal connection to gardening and how everything started at a party where he met a young lady not older than 22. To impress her, Mike told the girl he could grow raspberries. Even though he knew nothing of the sort at that time, a friend got him started on harvesting raspberries with an easy guide for novice gardeners.

Sometime later, Mike married the “gorgeous woman” he met at the party and went on to become one of the most experienced gardeners in the nation. He has written several books, among which “Mike McGrath’s Book of Compost” and “You Bet Your Tomatoes” are the most notable examples of his work. Nowadays, he is the host of one of the most popular WHYY’s local programs; You Bet Your Garden. The radio show airs every Saturday at 11 a.m.

Furthermore, Mike is also the Garden Editor for WTOP News Radio in Washington D.C. and holds his post for more than a decade now. In the past, he was appointed as the garden expert for the morning edition of The Today Show on NBC from 1993 to 1997. As a result, his extensive professional background makes him one of the best professional gardeners the United States of America has to offer.

What Exactly Does Mike McGrath Do?

He uses the radio show to take calls from listeners all around the nation, provides valuable information on gardening basics and answers garden-related emails. Furthermore, he also does a lot of interviews with multiple gardening experts from around the country. Maybe one reason as to why his show is so popular is his spontaneity.

In fact, he says that when he goes to record his show on Wednesdays, he does not even look at the questions the producers pick for him until five minutes before the show. Furthermore, he doesn’t make use of books or computers. As a result, everything he recommends to the audience is based on personal experience. If he does not know the question, he goes on to cover other aspects of the listener’s problems and provides additional tips. Next, let’s look at some of the questions and professional advice extracted from the You Bet Your Garden archive.

Unexpected Advice on Excessive Weeds

One day, a listener wanted to know how to keep excessive weeds from overcrowding the planting area. The solution to this problem came rather quickly, was definitely unexpected and most of all extremely hilarious. “Get a goat,” says Mike. How much simpler can a resolution be? And if the goat does not do the job, do not panic. Replace it with geese or ducks. Simple as that. All joking aside, animals that eat bad plants are especially beneficial to every garden, as long as you keep an eye on them.

Invasive plants represent a complex problem, especially when they have the chance to get a hold on ecologically sensitive areas. Hence, using an herbicide to get rid of the unwanted weeds might carry a negative effect on surrounding pools of water along with harming the fish or amphibians. The best way to push back the invasive plants and regain some territory is to let the animals take care of the problem for you!

You Bet Your Garden Advice on Asiatic Beetles

It comes as no surprise that more than just a few gardeners struggle with pest control, especially in the beginning. One particular individual had some problems with Asiatic beetles feeding on his Zinnia plants at night. So, the most logical thing to do is ask for help from other experienced gardeners. Dealing with Asiatic beetles can be a hassle, as they are a pest in both larval as well as a fully-developed adult state. Since You Bet Your Garden is all about using eco-friendly means of fending off harmful pests, Mike indulges the novice gardeners with yet some more interesting pieces of advice on how to keep the food supply free of bug infestations.

Using only light, you can keep the plants free from Asiatic beetle attacks during the night, according to Mike. Do not keep outdoor lights on during night time. If you live in a dark area, use some motion activated lights for safety concerns. Alternatively, you can use a bright light to serve as an incentive for the bugs on the outskirts of your property. This practice will drag the pests away from your plants and ensures a rich and healthy harvest.

Professional Advice on Veggie Gardens for Beginners

Most people turn to gardening as a healthy alternative for a balanced lifestyle and an all year round fresh food supply. No different is Kim from Mapleton, Maine who is eager to learn the basics of a vegetable garden.

Without a hitch, Mike shares the secrets of a healthy veggie garden for everybody to know:

  • Start small – build a couple of raised beds the first season and add new ones each year.
  • Build raised beds – this practice better feeds the plants and prevents weed woes.
  • Get creative – use rocks to make raised bed frames.
  • Create a barrier against weeds – place some cardboard on the ground to prevent weeds.
  • Enrich the soil – use bulk compost or aged mushrooms and fill your beds with it.
  • Protect with mulch – gather leaves and cover your beds with a two-inches-thick layer.
  • Do not use seeds from the very start – for serious summer vegetables, use started plants.

Advice to Keep Your Garden Safe from a Slug Invasion

When you decide to plant lettuce in your garden, watch out for slug hordes! Many people experience failed crops because of the pesky slug attacks. Consequently, all novice gardeners want to know how to properly prepare to fend off these pests and care for their leafy greens crops.

Once again, Mike holds several answers:

  • Beer – fill a margarine tub with beer and place it on top of the soil close to the plants.
  • Coffee – spray directly on the slugs in the morning.
  • Copper – hot-glue some pennies around the tops of your containers.
  • Human hair – surround the plants with a barrier of hair and the slugs will get tangled up.
  • Citrus – leave lemon rinds out overnight near slug-prone plants.
  • Rove beetles – these do not harm the plants but do eat both the slugs as well as their eggs.
  • Ducks – these feathered friends act as slug eaters and also provide natural fertilizer.

You Bet Your Garden: Rose Planting 101 with Mike McGrath

Flower beds make for great backyard decorations, and none can do without the majestic red rose. However, few people know how to plant a rose bush or how to care for one, for that matter. Thanks to his extensive expertise, Mike can shed light on this particular subject and give out some vital pieces of information about rose planting.

  • Soak the roots in water for a few hours before planting, just to make sure they are well hydrated.
  • Choose a sunny space with good ventilation. The morning sun, in particular, works wonders for roses.
  • Break up the soil with a garden fork or pry-bar if you are going to plant in clay.
  • Dig a hole and add plenty of compost in the middle for a great food source for the rose bush.
  • Plant in the evening; spread the roots out and try to plant the rose high in the ground.
  • Fill the hole back up with the same native soil, no matter how much richer other soil you have at your disposal.
  • Do not use chemical plant food and freshen up the compost with another inch every other two months.


Starting your own vegetable garden or decorating your backyard with colorful flower beds may prove to be a hassle, especially if you are a novice gardener. However, Mike McGrath has your back every Saturday from 11 a.m. Listen to the helpful pieces of advice he gives out to people nationwide through You Bet Your Garden radio show, and use the valuable information to improve your skills.

In time, you will acquire the extensive knowledge you need to set the base of a backyard vegetable garden and learn how to care properly for your food supply. All in all, the information is pretty straightforward and simple, so you will get a taste for gardening in no time and wish for more with every You Bet Your Garden broadcast!

Bonnie Enos

I spend my time in my garden trying to create the greatest outdoor space possible. My garden is my happy place and where you will always find me on a nice day. I take my experience and share it here for you to read!

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