Growing on the High Plains

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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Kisses of red childhood memories dance through my mind during the holiday season - the magic of mining for mistletoe in rusty red cedars planted in the red soil of my Oklahoma home.

Mistletoe’s meaning goes well beyond the romantic notion of kissing. It derives from viscum album, the Celtic word for ‘all heal.’ But then again, what’s more healing than kissing the one you love?

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.

I always knew their song, but didn't quite have the name right. I'm talking about cicadas—not "locusts"—as this is the proper name for these creatures. Their presence takes me back to my Oklahoma childhood, so today we'll discuss their quirky existence, remarkable life cycle, and striking appearance. Without the humidity or tree cover, our High Plains homes don't always hear (or see) these insects setting up camp. On today's installment of the show, I'll meet their resounding poetics with proper poetry.

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.

Oleander on the Bartlett Arboretum

Sep 7, 2019
Kansas Sampler Foundation

Folks, the older I get the more I like to visit places that have a long history.  “What about the Bartlett Arboretum?” I asked Iola Humboldt.  She consulted her Kansas map, but couldn’t find it.  “Let’s just drive to Belle Plain,” I insisted.

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.

Vincent Mancini

Wily coyotes and mischievous mice aren’t just in cartoons. They can also be found at certain times of the year in the hay bales that protect Skip’s garden.  

On this week’s Growing on the High Plains, Skip explains the many uses of straw bales and how they not only help protect her garden from the wily weather of western Kansas, but also with supporting her small ecosystem of critters.

Check out the slideshow of local farmer Tom Stoppel’s hay bailer as he delivers the stacks of straw.

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 take a stab at the “sword lily.” That’s right, we’re talking about the gladiolus, a perennial flowering plant that normally lives in Asia, along the Mediterranean, and Africa – but if you try, you can also make them work in our region with a little care.

Pixabay

Just like Skip's garden, High Plains Public Radio started with tender loving care from its founders, listener-members and volunteers who helped broadcast the seeds that continue to produce a year-round harvest of news, information and entertainment. 

"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.

 

Flickr

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.

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