gardening

Today on Growing on the High Plains, we'll check in with our two-part series on perennials. Getting wily beds under control is easy if you remember two words: divide and conquer!

"The return makes one love the farewell." — Alfred de Musset, French poet (1810-1857)

Today on Growing on the High Plains, let's delve into those favorite prodigal plants: the perennials. Many choose to make these "comeback kids" an integral part of their gardens due to their die-hard will to return after long winter months.

They make sandwiches succulent. They captivate in a caprese. They sploosh in a fattoush. I'm talking about none other than the top of the crop (as far as popularity goes): our friend, the juicy tomato.

Gardening on the High Plains can be a joy, but it's not without the occasional heartbreak. My efforts at growing fruit, despite the folly of our frequent (and unpredictable) freezes, have been a challenge. However, I have ventured into the thick of it: thickets and berry brambles, here I come! My memories of bucolic berry hunts, as well as the sweet-and-tart cobblers to come, are so warm nothing could freeze them out—not even Mother Nature.

Oleander As Gardening Hits a High

Jun 13, 2019
Wikimedia Commons

Folks, last February I was paying attention.  When all the other old coots at the Here, Kansas, Co-op were drowsing through the cold, or standing at the window listening to the sleet skitter along the glass, or contemplating their next move in checkers, I was watching.  Because I knew exactly what would happen in July.

Gardening has been a part of my life since the beginning, and much of that is due to my family's influence. My father instilled within me the joy of tending and enjoying a landscape filled with blooms and plots filled with homegrown food. That love stayed with him until his final days, and it will stay with me with me as well.

Today's Growing on the High Plains will focus on some of my favorite summertime house guests that we often welcome at the start of the season. Our resident barn swallows can be an annual delight, especially if given appropriate abodes to keep them out of your way. We delight in these flighty friends as a source of company and airborne entertainment. Listen and I'll share some insight regarding their family dynamic, hearty architecture, and unique squeaks as they go in for a feline dive bomb.

 

For many Americans, Memorial Day is marked by leisure, outdoor cooking, and the start of Summer. However, we also remember that this holiday has a somber origin: an observance of lost service women and men throughout history—and there’s one flower that’s been the traditional choice to decorate soldiers' graves: peonies.

Gardens are for growing, but there are endless opportunities to adorn your space with doo-dads, trinkets, tchotchkes, and "stuff." Over the years, one of my favorite additions to our outdoor garden has been hefty, hearty wind chimes that stand up to the Herculean winds of the High Plains. Today's Growing on the High Plains will cover some of the charms and tones of these calming instruments of our yards and gardens. 

Today on Growing on the High Plains, we’ll dig into the benefits of making your home garden a welcome home for wildlife, insects, and other critters. By following a few rules of (green) thumb, you can create a hospitable habitat that’s a sustainable haven for those outdoor friends who bring beauty, nature, and interest to your space. We’ll discuss planting nuts, seeds, and berries; providing clean, chemical-free water; and considering adding a bit of shelter.

Today's Growing on the High Plains will continue looking at apples, but this time we'll be working from the ground up. Planting your own apple trees can be a joy, but there are a few guidelines you'll want to peel back before getting started. While one would think it'd be simple as (apple) pie, growers looking to plant apple trees will face a number of time-consuming decisions.

Today's Growing on the High Plains will unfurl the history and lore of "the stinking rose," also known as garlic. Whether you love it or hate it, this potent bulb has a storied past that dates back 6,000 years. From their ancient medicinal applications to their post-WWII debut on American dinner tables, garlic has been a boon to humans and a bane to parasites (and vampires). But for most of us, it's nothing a sprig of parsley won't fix. Hear the full episode below. 

They say great things can come in small packages. The same applies to fruit and vegetable gardens, especially with the proper planning. Today’s edition of Growing on the High Plains explores several ways that clever gardeners can make the most of a small space – increasing the variety and bounty of home harvests.  If you don’t have a lot of land to spare, you can still cultivate copious crops by utilizing proven techniques like going vertical, growing in blocks rather than rows, and staggering the seasonal timing of what’s in the dirt at any given time.

Keeping up with the botanical nomenclature can be a bit daunting for those of us who are a little rusty on our Latin. Thankfully, gardeners have a host of common names by which they can refer to their favorite foliage.

On today's Growing on the High Plains, I'll share a few of my favorite house plants—both their scientific name and the whimsical nicknames that often accompany them.

As these long, dull winter days drag on, some of us High Plains gardeners get the itch for an early spring. They say patience is a virtue, but for those antsy to glance even the faintest stroke of color, I recommend the red twig dogwood. There's nothing as striking as the shrub's vertical chutes of warm crimson against the chilly monochrome of this season. Right now is when the bush's red twigs blaze brightest, a toasty tone of decorative bark.

Today's Growing on the High Plains will continue the series about the purple coneflower. Tune in to hear more about this medically magnificent plant that's also very easy on the eyes. This concludes the three-part series on this hearty, practical plant that has a lot to offer! 

Today's Growing on the High Plains will continue the series about the purple coneflower. Tune in to hear about the many medicinal uses from times past, as well as remedies still used today. This continues the three-part series on this hearty, practical plant that has a lot to offer! 

Today's Growing on the High Plains will put a familiar, purple beauty in the spotlight: the purple coneflower. We've all seen them adding a splash of color to the region, ususally in rocky soil, lining our rural highways with a strong resolve and stiff stem. Take a closer look, and you'll find that this hearty wildflower is more than just a pretty face. In fact, these lovely perennials are a possible cash crop for High Plains gardeners due to their herbal and medicinal properties.

It's a  new year, so what better time to start planning a vegetable garden? Today's episode of Growing on the High Plains will dig deep into best practices for gardeners in our region. While our seasons can be unique, there's one guiding gardening rule that always rings true: ROTATION! ROTATION! ROTATION!

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'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.

"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.

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.

"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.

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.

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