gardening

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. 

Today's Growing on the High Plains will consider the brave, berry-beaked birds of the High Plains and their service to gardens big and small. Many don't think about planting to attract these natural pest controllers, but our winged friends are more than happy to nest and rest among a hospitable home with a berry buffet. We'll discuss the benefits of well-planned berry brambles and bushes, not to mention fruit trees to which the feathered often flock.  

Today's edition of Growing on the High Plains dives into endive, slams into spinach, and ravishes the elusive radicchio! Plus, we'll take a sweet, sidelong glance at the family of bitter greens.

From their origins as rustic staples growing wild on the countryside, some of these would-be weeds can taste a touch like lawn clippings. Some have a kick, and others have a pucker, which can "leaf" you with a grimace. But if you prepare them with the right amount of salt, fat, and spice, they can be fare fit for a high-end, farm-to-table gourmet restaurant.

The perfect pear can taste like heaven, so it's no surprise that the ancients thought it had a divine origin. Though taking on a fruit tree can be tricky business in our fickle zones, you CAN grow healthy pears on the High Plalins. 

Today's installment of Growing on the High Plains will focus on a "flaming" friend of many High Plains landscapes: the flower phlox. Though a homonym for a common word we all use for big groups of sheep or seagulls, this plant is a common sight across our region -- and certainly in my own garden. Listen for some tips on maintaining your flock of phlox, including ways to ensure healthy plants free of the mildrew that often afflicts it.

Today's Growing on the High Plains zips through a fast summer full of bees, but I'm fairly certain these aren't your average High Plains pollinator. It seems my garden and yard have been taken over by some B-listers, so I thought we'd take a few minutes to discuss the differences between some of these interlopers and the typical bumblebees of our region.

Today's Growing on the High Plains gives some love to lovage, the  herbaceous, perennial plant that first appeared in my life through a theatre production. I soon planted it, and it's been love(age) ever since. Tune in to hear a bit about its history and popular uses in cooking and  as an herbal remedy.

Today on Growing on the High Plains, I thought we could turn our attention toward the many faces of the ever-vigilant sunflower. A common sight across our High Plains prairies, and the namesake flower of Kansas, these stoic soldiers of yellow and brown keep watch over the gardens and fields. It seems that each turns its seedy visage as the sun cycles through the sky...but do they?   

Today on Growing on the High Plains, I thought I would introduce listeners to the wonders of catnip. I don't mean a love bite from a feisty feline.

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! 

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