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

What makes a weed? Well, it depends on who you ask. Some have a lot in common with wildflowers, but good luck beating them back if you choose to introduce them into your space. Today's Growing on the High Plains regards the eternally pesky presence of weeds. We'll dig in on some of our region's most common weeds, like dandelions, loosestrife, Johnson grass, and more. The coming weeks will bring more discussion of gardening challenges, so stay tuned. If you have questions, feel free to reach out to me directly here.  

Shucks, it's already late in the season, so check out today's installment of Growing on the High Plains where we'll celebrate the welcome gold of late summer sweet corn. I'm lucky enough to have arranged a produce exchange with a northerly neighbor, swapping melons for corn. So when their crop is ready, I'm "all ears." Of course I have my own thoughts about how best to clean and prepare it, and it's a bit of a departure from methods taught to me early childhood methods.

Image from WikiHow

Many cats long for the green, green grass of home...or anywhere they can get it, for that matter. Today on Growing on the High Plains, we'll talk about cat grass, which  many at-home pet owners have been growing during the pandemic lockdown. There are many varieties, and your homebound furry roommates might enjoy having a little taste of the outdoors. 

Keeping a garden going is a lot of work. Sometimes it would be nice to have a helping hand on the sidelines to do some of the tough and tedious tasks requires. When the sun grows hot, the time seems short, and the yard work feels endless, that's when I let my mind wander to the glorious prospect of getting a hired hand to whom I could delegate upkeep. Today's Growing on the High Plains is a reflection of sorts, and it makes me think of one of the legendary "hired hand": Shane. Who can forget that final scene: "Pa's got things for you to do...and mother wants you.

Summertime gardening often means spending some serious quality time with your own thoughts as you tend the plants, forage the foliage, and pluck out your harvest. I find that there's no better place to ruminate than while hunting down leggy legumes in my bean rows. Today's Growing on the High Plains will share some insight about a common regional garden  success story: the green bean. Whether you prefer "string," "jade," or "snap," climbing beans can yield a hearty crop in our zones. So get out there!

Today's Growing on the High Plains will put a familiar garden friend "on the spot." Obviously, we're talking about the polka-dot winged ladybug. They've been a staple helper on the High Plains for centuries, and they've even warranted a folk song often issued to warn them of forthcoming prairie burns. Always a boon among the garden leaves, these classy little friends not only add a speck of flair and elegance to the landscape, they also keep some of the more unsavory pests at bay. 

Today, I'll share my deep love for one of the signature soldiers of my summertime gardening . These "golden apples" often top the list of favorite veggies (even though they're technically a fruit). Enjoy today's installment of Growing on the High Plains as I reflect on these fragrant plants with an ode to the mighty tomato.

Today's Growing on the High Plains will put a hold on the topic of gardening and rather reflect on two people who nourished my life and growth: my father and father-in-law. Both men had a common bond, as they each had a hand in defending our country in World War II—and there's an even more incredible link in the machinery of it all. From my heart to yours, have a happy, safe, and fulfilling Father's Day.

Today, in the second part of my rambles on brambles, I'll pull back a bit and share some general berry basics.Whether it's blackberries, red raspberries, or other compatible edibles, you can have these sweet treats all summer with the right garden treatment. I'll share some valuable tips on sun and soil to get the best from your berry bushes, and you also need to consider moisture, supports, and the pesky pruning.

Decades ago, when planning a landscape for our prairie home, there were a few things we wanted to make sure we had on the grounds. In addition to the need for shelter belts and a desire for various gardens, we also included plenty of space for an orchard. Anyone who attempts to grow tree fruits on the High Plains knows that it can often times feel like a fool's errand. But while the rewards are few and far between, the sheer delight in creating jams, jellies, cobblers and pies makes it all worth it.

You might be noticing the flapping shadows at your porchlight a little more than usual this year. It seems the "Army Cutworm," also known as the "Miller Moth," has had a good year in our region—which can mean trouble for our gardens. Today's Growing on the High Plains takes a closer look at these fuzzy, flying evening foes. While finicky felines might take delight in batting and catching these living toys, I can't wait until they take flight for more distant pastures. 

   

When the green buds puff up at the tree's twiggy tips, the gardener's inner clock strikes a chord: it's tulip time! Today's Growing on the High Plains will scoop up some hisotry and context for these storied favorites, as their influence spans the globe and the hands of time. Their appeal has always run deep. These thick-petaled protruberances once signified wealth and were treated as tradable tender. But if you scroll back far enough, their power moved economies and pushed markets underground—literally and figuratively (on the "black market").

"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant." —Robert Louis Stevenson 

They say patience makes the heart grow fonder. Likewise, it makes the asparagus stalk grow stronger. Today's Growing on the High Plains is a lesson in patience. The key to having a successful asparagus bed is planning, preparing, and then waiting. Today we'll discuss the best way to tuck in your new friends so their roots grow deep and strong. We'll talk trenches, ridges, mulching and path stones.

We can all feel it. The weather has been warming,  blossoms have been peeking up from the prairie groundcover, and the green buds on the trees have been rubbing their eyes in the sunshine. Today's Growing on the High Plians will feature one of my favorite spring vegetables. Asparagus, thankfully, fares well in our dry climate, so tune in for some tips to optimize your harvest. First timerrs will have a to invest a little extra time getting the plants settled, and some finessing can be required to keep them producing.

As we all hunker down during the COVID-19 pandemic, it's a prime time to focus on new life! Enter all the High Plains gardening fans out there—it's time to shine in this new landscape of social distancing. Whether  you're an old-school green thumb or just starting out, there could be no better time to get a little susnhine and plant a new garden. Consider setting up a spring veggie patch, or maybe some decorative potted companions to lend a little color and optimism to the drab days ahead. Here are a few tips and nudges to get diggin'. 

It's hard to believe that we're looking down four decades in our prairie abode. Given the passage of time, I thought our yard might be ripe for a change in scenery—well, landscape layout, anyway. Today on Growing on the High Plains, I'll share a brave new option for High Plains gardeners who might feel like mixing up the variety of vegetable placement for increased ease and decreased toil. This season, I'm hoping to toss out the traditional rows of corn, beans, and peas of my heritage for a new plan called "German four-square." 

Today on Growing on the High Plains, we'll discuss one of the early alerts of an impending Spring: chives. Not only are they quite lovely, they're also a delightlful addition to dishes from your home kitchen. As lightweight, low-sulfur onions, chives can add a fresh, savory kick to everything from salads to omelets—and obviously the beloved bakead potato.

While we're all thinking about our Spring gardens, so are our animal friends. I'm not sure about you, but our family pets have been regular attendees throughout the tilling and tending of our High Plains gardens. They start out as nosy parkers, worrying the freshly-tilled soil and swatting insect pests. But it's my hope to get them more involved.  Today's Growing on the High Plains will share my experience our pets in our gardens, including our attempt at train rogue dogs to mind the boundaries and to pick up some outdoor chores. 

As a dedicated gardener, I rely heavily on my compost heap. It's an easy thing to maintain, but there are a few rules to follow to make sure it's at its best. Compost needs little more than some air, some water, a little green, and a little brown. On today's edition of Growing on the High Plains, we'll discuss a few must-haves and a never-"doo" for your own compost heap. Happy Spring, and good luck with this year's garden!

It’s mid-March, and our gardens will soon be front-and-center in the minds of us High Plains horticulturalist types. So today’s Growing on the High Plains will take a look at a program that gave me inspiration when I stumbled upon it in the Sunday paper.

Few places on the calendar have such an established aphorism as the month of March: "In like a lion, out like a lamb." While there are a few different origin stories to this folk saying, the observation still rings true in our region. Today on Growing on the High Plains, I'll offer some perspective on how the wily month of March means madness for many a High Plains gardener.

“Flower of this purple dye, Hit with Cupid's archery, Sink in apple of his eye. “

—William Shakespeare

Today’s edition of Growing on the High Plains comes just after Valentine’s Day, and appropriately so. We’ll take a look at dicentra, which most of you might know as the perennial “bleeding heart.” Thankfully, this “hearty” plant —pun intended—does pretty well in our region, as long as you give it a little TLC (and a lot of water, shelter, and shade). As pretty as they are, you don’t want to eat your heart out as this lovely flowering plant is poisonous if ingested. Talk about a heartbreaker!  

On today's edition of Growing on the High Plains, I'd like to reminisce about my experience with a peculiar plant I've known since childhood. It's one of those plants that's considered a "noxious weed." Some called it "witch's shoelaces," others called it "dodder," but we always called it "loveweed." This odd vampire has no roots, no leaves, and hardly any green chlorophyll.

Valentine's day is coming, and love is in the air. So today on Growing on the High Plains, I'll tell you about an enchanted, amorous bloom often referred to as "Love in a Mist." 

You know how that special someone makes you feel like you're walking on air? Likewise, these bright, ethereal blooms appear to levitate over a frothy, feathered bed of foliage.  But watch out! Like lovers, they'll grow thorny with time. Thankfully, like love, they're always worth the trouble.  

Today on Growing on the High Plains, I'll be grinding up some old memories of my family as I reflect on natural cures and medicinal herbs . As the proud daughter of a "pill splitter" whose family has a long history of respect for "yarbs," I hope you enjoy learning more about how nature really can provide the best medicine. From mint to garlic to chamomile, there are many easy options available to gardeners looking for a healthy addition to their Spring planting. 

Folks, compiling this week's installment of Growing on the High Plains was no walk in the garden.  Since we'll be discussing some of my favorite culinary herbs, I had to be wise about which would make the cut (to be chopped).  I finally decided to keep it simple, showcasing a few of my favorite staple herbs and their many applications.

As we celebrate a new year, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to plot out some 2020 plans for planting. A lush, green herb garden is the perfect resolution, so today we'll dig in with tips and tricks for the perfect selection and set-up. Aromatic, medicinal, and edible, herbal plants enrich every gardener's kitchen, lifestyle, and lend a fresh scent to the air. We'll learn more about herbs next week, so stay tuned. 

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If you opt for the real thing at Christmas, there are many uses for Christmas trees after the holiday is over.

Listen to this week’s show for the many ways you can abide by the 3 R’s – reduce, reuse, recycle.

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