gardening

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.

Growing on the High Plains: Gourds

Jun 11, 2020
© WP Armstrong 2007

Today on Growing on the High Plains, we'll hollow out the pros and cons of growing gourds. Used for as containment vessels like canteens, planters, bowls, and pitchers since ancient times, these functional and decorative doo-dads can also be consumed—well, some varieties can! Listen in on the big and small of how best to grow, the set-up needed to support the hearty vines, and a few crafting ideas on how to make use of them.

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.

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

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.  

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. 

Whether or not you're one of those souls who tend to get "that holiday feeling" as the season approaches, it seems fairly safe to say the jolly spirit is upon us at first glance of a particular potted plant. If you see a flash of flame-colored leaves erupting from a foil-wrapped pot, you know it's poinsettia time.

T'is the season for giving, so today's edition of Growing on the High Plains will consider the many ways gardeners can get some heartfelt holiday gifts knocked out with proper planning. From preserves to potpourri, there are many ways you can share your bounty with loved ones. In addition, I'll share some smart gift ideas for the garderners on your shopping list, young and old. Plus, it's always nice to remember those who once loved working the land but aren't able to do so anymore.

Today I'd like to share with you a story from a Thanksgiving past, and just a warning for all your traditionalists out there: it involves NOT wanting to make a turkey. From the hassle of baking the bird to figuring out a solution for the aftermath, it's a holiday memory I'll not soon forget. From my tableto yours, I wish a very happy Thanksgiving to all of our High Plains Public Radio listeners!

Today's Growing on the High Plains will walk you through a High Plains meadow to visit a familiar neighbor: "Achillea millefolium," also known as yarrow. Be it white or yellow, this medicinal plant has numerous applications that date back to ancient Greece (and it's said that even animals make use of it). But beyond the practical, the tiny flowers of the yarrow plant also happen to be quite lovely. My yarrow stocks are plentiful, so reach out if you'd like a starter. You can call me at 1.800.678.7444.

As we move into the season of steaming casseroles full of hearty vegetable side dishes, I thought it would be a fine time to bring up a common misconception regarding one of my favorite tubers: the  confounding sweet potato. Some call them yams, but is that correct? How are they different, and are they even "potatoes" at all? Listen up, and we'll peel back the myths about these starchy staples. I'll even share some personal history with sweet potato delights from my childhood and California cafes.

It's Halloween, so let's talk about some plants that crave the blood and flesh of insects over the mandatory nutrients of the soil. We'll take this topic out of the dark, since they prefer bright sunshine. I'll share some tips on watering, planting, and tending to your own "CPs," so you can host a leigon of living flytraps on your own window sill. 

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