Growing on the High Plains

When it comes to High Plains weather, the only constant is change...and maybe unpredictability. So for those of us tending gardens in this region, the trifecta of odd weather, fickle heat, and apprehensive precipitation are forever a safe bet.

Do I dare to eat a peach? - T.S. Elliott

On today’s Growing on the High Plains, I’ll wax poetic on the glories of this golden tree-ripened delight. Not those items you buy in the store picked green and shipped hundreds of miles, but those found on a backyard tree or roadside stand.

Peach trees thrive in many North American habitats including the high plains. All they need is cold winter weather and luck in avoiding a late freeze. Their relatively fragile blossoms can't take freezing temperatures.

On today’s Growing on the High Plains, I’ll introduce you to a pair of donkeys who have captured my heart and brightened my commute along Highway 83 in southwest Kansas. The donkeys share a 15-acre pasture at the intersection of US Route 50, while providing a welcome bright spot where the fabled loneliest road meets the highway to nowhere.

Today on Growing on the High Plains, I thought I'd plant a seed of history about a favorite feat of flair from a former First Lady. I'm talking about the Highway Beautification Act, passed in 1965, which was a visionary project of Lady Bird Johnson. 

On today's Growing on the High Plains, we'll share a burst of color for your post-Fourth of July blues. I'll spend some time on an elegant flower I've enjoyed for years in my own garden, and it's also a big hit with the pollenators.

I'm talking about bee balm, which is indeed medicinal! Native Americans dried the tender leaves to brew herbal tea, and that practice also influenced early settlers who were dependent on black tea from England—and they found  it to be quite revolutionary (literally)!

How might have Native Americans and early settlers washed up after a day in the Dust Bowl, in an age before shower gels and laundry detergent pods? The answer probably won’t surprise you, as the aptly-named native tree is the subject of today’s Growing on the High Plains.

From grapefruit to Cadillacs, everything looks prettier in pink! And flower gardens are no exception. So what’s the preferred puce-petaled posy for High Plains planters?

On today’s Growing on the High Plains, we’re delving into the “pinks,” the quintessential cottage flower also known as Dianthus. From their humble origins in English gardens to the palette of 300+ species that exist today, the prolific Pinks have been providing a playful pop to garden perimeters for centuries.

Last week we set the roots of our two-part tale of the mighty onion, peeling back the odorous history, health benefits, and cultural significance across the globe. On today’s installment of Growing on the High Plains, let’s bring it back home—to our own back yards! We’ll discuss the many layers of growing and harvesting from your onion patch.

There's nothing quite as distinctive as the familiar spice and tang of a cut onion. Whether you've pulled them wild from the yard or someone's slicing a shallot, leek or chive for an aromatic meal. 

Today on Growing on the High Plains, we'll take a bite out of the many layers of biology and history that make up the common onion. You'll laugh. You'll cry. And you'll do it all again next week in part two! 

 

My grandmother called them "flags," but they're also known as "poor man's orchids." Anyone aware of common flowers that take to our climate will surely recognize -- and likely know a little about --these blooms.

On today's Growing on the High Plains, I'll tell you all about the iris, a flower that's heady, hardy, and just right for thriving on the High Plains. 

Blink and you’ll miss the brief, springtime bloom of these purple-hued beauties. But not to worry—they’ll be back again this time next year…and the next…and the next. Because believe it or not, these sweet-smelling shrubs can have a lifespan of more than 300 years.

On today’s Growing on the High Plains, we’re talking about lilacs. Revered worldwide for their intoxicating fragrance and graceful cascading flowers, it’s actually their resilience to travel and transplantation that placed them on American shores early in our history.

Are you in the market for a little feline companionship? Perhaps some silver, furry buds to bring joy to your life? But maybe a friend that won’t sharpen its claws on the edges of your furniture or sit on your head at 4:00 a.m. begging for food?

On today’s Growing on the High Plains, we’re talking about another early-spring bloomer: the pussy willow! Though it’s fluffy catkins won’t purr, they’ll bring just as much feckless enjoyment to your home, inside and out.

What vegetable is versatile enough to bring a zesty, big crunch to burgers at a backyard barbecue, but delicate enough to add a refreshing refinement to finger sandwiches at a garden party?

That’s right! Today’s Growing on the High Plains is all about the cucumber. Whether relishing them on hot dogs, thick-sliced on a salad, or elevating a normal glass of water to something spa-worthy, cool hands have been on cukes for more than 3,000 years.

There’s a particular square-stemmed annual with fragrant leaves and tubular purple blooms that often polarizes High Plains gardeners. Some say it’s a nuisance. Some consider it a colorful harbinger of spring after a long, drab winter.

On today’s Growing on the High Plains, we’re talking about the divisive henbit, a member of the mint family that establishes itself in the fall, matures to thick foliage, and then blossoms in the spring but generally disappears with the first hot spell of summer.

Yes, we have no apricots (again)! In theory, apricot trees should thrive in our High Plains climate. They are hardy enough to survive the cold winters, and our dry summers actually aid in the maturation of their soft, sweet summer bounty. So why do our region’s apricot trees only yield fruit every 5 to 10 years?

Get in on Skip Mancini's Spring Garden Basket. Pledge your support TODAY from 9a-12p CT, during High Plains Morning, for your chance to win. PLUS, your dollars will be doubled thanks to Mary Emeny of Amarillo, TX! 

SUPPORT PUBLIC RADIO TODAY! Call 1.800.678.7444 or pledge online.

We all know that nothing compares to sun-ripened strawberries, home-grown in your own backyard. Well, spring has sprung, so it’s ripe time to begin planning your future crop.

We’ve finally reached that hopeful time of year. It’s the time when winter loosens its icy hold on the High Plains and the first signs of spring burgeon up from the frozen ground, dotting the naked foliage with the budding promise of warmer times to come.

One of the dinner table’s most divisive vegetables gets some High Plains love. On today’s Growing on the High Plains, everything’s coming up broccoli. This notoriously-fussy grower has been the bane of many a gardener, but there are a few tricks about managing planting time and growing conditions to cultivate a successful crop, from stem to floret.

Last week I shared my experience hunting down the elusive McFarland Juniper, so I thought this week I could offer a few more evergreen endorsements to round out your coniferous collection.

Today’s Growing on the High Plains will continue the conversation about landscaping with drought-tolerant evergreens. Gardeners, hedge your bets with a lovely Woodward Juniper perimeter, or perhaps rock out with a stunning, jade-hued Arizona Cyprus accent tree. Both trees are known to reach impressive heights, and neither require quite as much watering as you might expect.

I’ve long admired McFarland juniper trees—capable of growing to towering heights like an Italian Cyprus, but sturdy enough to withstand the severe High Plains droughts and wind. It had been a long-time dream to add one of these majestic trees to my landscaping, but would I actually be able to locate one?

The gift of live plants can be a welcome addition to any garden, but briars beware: it’s important to perform the proper due diligence of your recently acquired flora before you begin laying roots.

Today on Growing on the High Plains, I share a cautionary tale about my own personal experience integrating misidentified gifted plants into my garden, and the resulting siege that they aggressively waged against my existing vegetation. So gardeners take heed and head off any invasive maneuvers by properly identifying acquisitions before you plant!  

Perhaps Billie Holiday said it best: "Oh, what a little moonlight can do!" While she was surely evoking the charms of low-lit romance, the same rings true for an evening landscape.

Today's Growing on the High Plains shines a silver spotlight on moon gardens. You'll learn how to plant the perfect bed of luminous blooms and fragrant foliage to best enjoy your garden around the clock and throughout the entire growing season.

We might be weathering some chilly temperatures now, but High Plains gardeners know that it's not too soon to think about spring planting. Today's Growing on the High Plains gives a shout-out to one of my favorite "firsts" among springtime flower beds: the pansy.

These bright blooms look anything but shy, and they're available in a variety of shades and fragrances. I'll offer some hot tips for these cool-weather friends, as well their love-laced legend. 

They say there are three things that matter when making decisions about real estate: ECHOLOCATION, ECHOLOCATION, ECHOLOCATION. And I suppose this especially rings true even when you're setting up a new residence for hometown bats.

They say, “Every rose has its thorn,” but not the beautiful blooms cropping up on today’s Growing on the High Plains. Nor do they require watering, pruning, or pest control—and yet they give new meaning to the word “perennial!”

In a time when good news and brotherly love sometimes seems to be at a low ebb, it's nice to know there are brilliant ideas still soaring through the minds of gifted innovators. Today's Growing on the High Plains shares the story of a British aeronautics engineer that's exploring novel methods to provide food aid to those in need. Spurred by war or natural disasters, critical food shortages have become all too common in our troubled times, but this man's solution warmed my gardening heart.

Every High Plains gardener knows that moisture maintenance can be a trying task in the unpredictable weather patterns of our region--and that's as true for our wild winters as it is for the sweltering heat of summer.

A rose is a rose is a…snack? Wait, that’s not how the line goes…but maybe it should!

Today’s Growing on the High Plains takes a close look at the blushing, bulbous berry known as rosehips, the edible fruit of the rose. You’ve likely seen this curious word posted on products geared toward health and wellness—sold as vitamin supplements, herbal teas, tinctures, and more. They are indeed rich in health benefits, and they make a tangy treat to boot.

Pages