Skip Mancini

Producer and host of Growing on the High Plains

Years ago Skip Mancini left the rocky coast of Northern California to return to her roots in the heartland. Her San Francisco friends, concerned over her decision to live in a desolate flatland best known for a Hollywood tornado, were afraid she would wither and die on the vine. With pioneer spirit, Skip planted a garden. She began to learn about growing not only flowers and vegetables, but hearts and minds. If you agree that the prairie is a special place, we think you'll enjoy her weekly sojourns into Growing on the High Plains. 

Contact Skip Mancini about the program. 

Home community: Rural Haskell County, KS

(PO Box 699, Sublette, KS  67877)

Phone: (800) 678-7444 (Garden City studios)

Ways to Connect

The long prairie winter is already upon us, and it can chill the hearts of some of us High Plains gardeners. To combat those cold-weather blues, today's edition of Growing on the High Plalins provides a little green for the gray days ahead. I'll explain how a windowsill of planted microgreens can be a delightful way to keep your green thumb agile. Plus, we'll look into the brief history of this recent phenomenon. 

As we waft through Fall, nature lovers across our region enjoy bearing witness to the spectrum of flaming colors splashed across the treetops. So today’s dive into a bright orange fruit, about which many of you might not be too familiar, will certainly accessorize well with our High Plains autumn hues. Persimmons, whose name translates to “food of the gods” in Latin, grows best in warm, dry climates. If you’re lucky enough to have them available in your local produce section, you’re most likely looking at Japanese persimmons.

On today's Growing on the High Plains, we celebrate Thanksgiving, so I thought it would be wise to spend the show reflecting on a few things for which all gardeners in our region can be grateful. From full, Fall foliage to the season's blazing crimson and golden leaves, there is so much we can cherish after a summer full of rain with plentiful sunshine to follow. On behalf of the entire HPPR family, we want to wish all of our listeners a peaceful, safe, and warm holiday. Happy Thanksgiving! 

Have you ever wondered what makes the leaves turn from green to gold in Autumn? Well, today on Growing on the High Plains, we'll take a trip to New England and visit the astonishing color show provided by the regional trees and shrubbery. Tune in to find out more regarding the science behind the faded shades of Spring as they break into the blaringly-bright hues of Fall.

Today’s edition of Growing on the High Plains whisks us off to the Italian countryside for a visit near the medieval and Renaissance hill town of Montepulciano. Nestled in the Italian province of Siena in southern Tuscany, one can find a wondrous garden at farm estate of Villa La Foce. The villa was built in the late 15th century as a hospice for traveling pilgrims and merchants.

Established by the writer Dame Iris Origo and her husband Antonio Origo, the villa was consistently used to shelter refugee children and assisted many escaped Allied prisoners of war and partisans during World War II, in defiance of Italy's fascist regime and Nazi occupation forces.

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It might seem odd to be talking about melons at this late season, but I assure you this installment of Growing on the High Plains will roll right along with this Halloween week. Today I'll share some insight (and secrets) about the hearty, hydrating casaba melon. Indeed it is a winter melon, so it's ripe for discussion on this first day of November.

It's almost Halloween, so I thought I'd spend this week's edition of Growing on the High Plains prattling on about an October tradition: pumpkins! From tiny, white and smooth to huge, gray and bumpy, pumpkins these days are hardly limited to the traditional orange orbs of yore.

They say good things come to those who wait. On today's Growing on the High Plains, I'd like to discuss a biennial for which many a gardener has been very patient. I'm talking about Lunaria annua, also known as honesty or money plant. While biennials typically take a couple years to crop up, this one is well worth the wait. 

Not many things in life come easy. So when I first learned of a hearty houseplant with glorious blooms that didn't need much attention, I thought it might be a thing of fables.  On today's edition of Growing on the High Plains, I will extol the many benfits of the beautiful bromeliad — and how, not unlike High Plains Public Radio, we can all nurture and grow it with just a little effort and some occastion seed money. 

It's no secret that I like to support my local zoo in Garden City, KS.  For years I've served as an advocate and fundraiser, but my assistance also extends directly to the animals themselves.

"God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December."

—James M. Barrie, Scottish novelist & playwright

While we think of the impending change of the season, it's certainly time to consider our gardens and how we might ready them for a frost. Today's Growing on the High Plains will provide some advice for winterizing your rose bushes.

Today's Growing on the High Plains revisits the beloved couple of donkey neighbors with which I've become fascinated over the years. (If you need a refresher, here's part one!) Just a general check-in with our jack and jenny, this installment will cover a little bit about the daily life of a High Plains donkey. I'll share some of the burdensome history of these beasts, including their role in centuries-old medical and legal practices.

"Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work." —Booker T. Washington 

Many folks take to gardening as a way to relax, focus on nature, and unwind. However, it doesn't take long to realize this hobby can be VERY hard work.

For those who aren't accustomed to its unique landscape, our High Plains home is certainly a sight to see. After a recent visit from East-coast friends, I felt as if I saw the fields of Kansas with new eyes. 

So today's Growing on the High Plains will take a late-summer pause to review some of the spectacular native prairie grasses you might be taking for granted. Did you know that Kansas has the largest contiguous tract of native remnant—or uncultivated—tall grass prairie? I'll detail the different types common to our region, from the short and medium varieties to the towering tall grass favorites. (And living in a state with all three is a pretty rare thing!)

Today's Growing on the High Plains peels back the petals and puts them right on you plate. That's right, we'll chew on the murky history of eating floral fodder, from its medieval and herbal medicinal roots to its modern application in haute cuisine.

"Maybe seeing the Plains is like seeing an icon: what seems stern and almost empty is merely open, a door into some simple and holy state." —Kathleen Norris 

On today's Growing on the High Plains, I'd like to share a recent field trip I made in April to the Dyck Arboretum of the Plains in Heston, KS. This natural museum has held a special place in my heart for years, so I wanted to make sure the girls who help me in my garden were also able to experience it firsthand.

"Walk me out in the mornin' dew, my honey." —Grateful Dead

As you know, healthy gardens love to grow (and grow and grow), so it takes a loving hand to keep nature's chaos under control. Today's Growing on the High Plains offers a snippet of wisdom about "deadheading," the process of eliminating dead or spent flowers from living plants. Not only does it refresh and fortify the foliage, it keeps the color poppin' and gives the bushy beauty a blowout.

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.

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