Growing on the High Plains

"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.

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.

 

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This art form is not as simple as a stroll through the flowers, but when done right, topiaries can truly animate a garden.

Join Skip on this week’s Growing On The High Plains as she describes her own attempt at transforming one living thing into another living thing, after pondering the role of topiaries through the ages.

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.

Knock knock. (Who's there?) Hoo. (Hoo who?) Looks like there's an owl on the prowl! And there certainly is, today on Growing on the High Plains. I thought we could take a peek (through binoculars) at some of my favorite neighbors. Nestled in their custom abode, anchored to one of our treetops, you'll often find Ollie and Owlberta. I'm talking about our pals, the Great Horned Owls, living in our yard. Hear the story of their comings and goings, hoots and barks, and their fuzzy little family.

Today's Growing on the High Plains will cut into a topic that could bring a tear to your eye. That's right, I'm talking about onions. While there are many folk remedies to avoid the tears, most aren't very practical or effective. But there are some really wise and useful ways to reduce the sulfides in the air, which are responsible for the waterworks. Here's a hint: just chill out, stay sharp, and remember that it's all how you slice it. 

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.

Not every living thing thrives in the sunshine. Today's Growing on the High Plains will delve into those unique blooms that are shy during the daytime but come alive in the afternoon. Some of us call them "four o'clocks," but they're also known as "the Marvel of Peru," or "Les Belles-des-Nuits (Ladies of the Night)," but botanists just call them Mirabilis jalapa.

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.

Having its origin in Central Asia, apples have come a long way. The first apples were a far cry from the big, juicy globes found in produce markets, orchards, and grocery stores. Today’s Growing on the High Plains will peel back the skin of this familiar fruit. From Egypt to Greece to Washington state, we’ll follow the journey and hear a little history, some ancient mythology, and a few crunchy cultural references.

Who doesn't like garlic? Well, okay...a lot of people. But for those of us who hold a big place in our palate for this alabaster allium, "more garlic" is a familiar desire. So today's Growing on the High Plains will continue to peel back the shell on the allure of "the stinking rose" with part two of the series.

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.

Any High Plains gardener who tends an ever-shifting landscape and seasonal plots is intimately acquainted with the cycle of new life, harvest, and rebirth. Among the flora and vegetation, many like to adorn the space with stone structures, weatherproof trinkets, assorted doo-dads, and treasured tchotchkes that make it our own.

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!

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I am a bit of a basket case on today’s edition of Growing on the High Plains, as I discuss trugs and hods – two types of baskets used in gardening.

I also reminisce about gathering eggs at the behest of my grandparents – in egg carriers I still use to this day to transport fresh produce from my garden to my kitchen.

Today on Growing on the High Plains, we'll snap into an old Southern tradition that's said to usher in good luck for the New Year: eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day. While this folk custom goes as far back as the Civil War, being generally keen on beans as a matter of good fortune dates to ancient times. Tune in as we throw open the doors on this unique ritual and its rich history—and may it encourage you to cook up a batch of "coins" for your family on January 1st.

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A tumbleweed isn't often associated with Christmas and is a foe to my garden, but on today's edition of Growing on the High Plains, I delve into the history of the Kochia, aka fireweed, and its travails and travels across the High Plains, where at one time, it made a pit stop as a Christmas tree.

To fir or not to fir, that is the question! While we're all pining for the impending holidays, I thought I'd share some festive wisdom about an iconic, annual friend to many High Plains households: the Christmas tree. Even if you're from an artificial-tree household, it's fascining to know more about the different varieites of conifers that grace our holiday homes.

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! 

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