Growing on the High Plains

Today’s Growing on the High Plains comes after catching up on some reading—something the relaxed days of the pandemic have finally allowed. I came across an article about an alarming invasive plant, giant hogweed. It’s taking over parts of Russia, and so far it’s seemingly impossible to contain. While that might seem far away, the dangerous weed is also in the US. Growing up to 16 feet, it emits a smelly, toxic sap which can harm the skin and eyes.

There’s hardly an animal in our High Plains ecosphere more recognizable than the skunk. And once you see them, you worry that you might also SMELL them. However, today’s Growing on the High Plains will take a long look at these roving carnivores. With a little research, you’ll see that skunks surely earn their stripes in pest control. We’ll also talk about their infamous spray; it turns out you have to really get them angry before they would dare unleash their sulfuric mist.

There's nothing like falling leaves to make us stop and contemplate the coming changes of our lives. Bidding our withered, weathered summer plants "adieu" can feel somber, but the bright hues of autumn always pop up to offer consolation. Today's Growing on the High Plains waxes poetic on our sometimes fleeting seasons across this region. As we prepare for fiery fall colors on our often treeless landscapes, it's remarkable to reconize what our climate offers (and what that can bring). 

Today's Growing on the High Plains might feel ready for Halloween as we discuss the ominous "assassin bug." Despite their moniker, rest assured that you'd actually WANT to see these predatory friends in your garden. But no matter where your garden is right now, given our recent winter weather, be grateful for the many insect friends you've hosted this season...and don't worry: they'll be back next year!

https://www.needpix.com/photo/372439/common-garter-snake-snake-reptile-garter-animal-nature-wildlife-serpent-free-pictures

Snakes, toads, spiders and bats – the stuff of nightmares, especially for gnats.

On today’s Growing on the High Plains, these friendly foes are featured as the honestly helpful hombres for ridding your garden of the not-so-friendly creatures.

Listen for some ways to keep these garden guardians guarding your garden.

Get ready, because today’s Growing on the High Plains is on fire! In fact, we might even call it “Burning on the High Plains.” As you’ve surely noticed, autumn temperatures are descending across our region. It takes me back to memories of enjoying the brisk outdoors with my grandmother – a woman who thrilled at the prospect of lighting a warming bonfire. For what it’s worth, I seem to have inherited her “firebug” gene, though I’ve learned caution the hard way after a few close calls with careless burn piles. But now I have a tidy solution: my chimenea—an upright, clay patio fireplace that’s both front-loading and features a vertical smoke vent. This oblong oven allows for a well-positioned, safely-contained, and on-demand fire show. And as the evening glow grows dimmer, it keeps your outdoor relaxation station toasty and lit.

Today’s Growing on the High Plains will line up some facts about the energy and environmental benefits of planting a windbreak on your landscape. If you’re not sure what a “windbreak” is, perhaps you know it as a “shelterbelt”—those tightly-spaced rows of trees or shrubs that you might notice up and down the High Plains region. They provide shade in the summer and reduce the blasts from our High Plains wind on your abode throughout the year. But they also offer a lot of energy benefits.

Now that we've tied off our deep dig on weeds, invasive plants, and other garden irritations, I'd like to take this week to discuss a smart, simple solution for keeping your veggies going strong well into the Fall. As the weather cools across the High Plains, I know many of us have a hard time saying goodbye to the summer bounty. But I recently read about an easy way to grow greens, root vegetables, and other autumn-friendly edibles in a bag. It's easy to move so it stays situated in the sun, and it's small enough to perch on a bench or table so it's easy on the back.

Today's Growing on the High Plains continues our series on garden headaches—hearty residents like weeds, invasive vines, and other pains-in-the-grasses. Now it's time to talk about the beguiling presence of pests that masquerade as benevelont with their pretty blooms. Don't  be fooled by wild poinsettia, "devil's claw," or chinese lantern plants! They may look fetching on the edge of your growing space, but trust me: they're up to NO good.

These last few weeks, Growing on the High Plains sure has been annoying! Well, that's the aim as we continue our series on garden gremlins. Today, we'll be poking at some of the spikiest inhabitants in High Plains horticulture. Living in our region means we have to endure a full quiver of prairie shrapnel that might find its way onto our shoes, socks, jeans, and pets. But if you know what to avoid, you can make your time outside much less painful. Listen now for a crash course in thorns, stickers, prickles, punctures, burrs, and witchy weeds.    

Today's Growing on the High Plains continues the exploration of our deep-rooted frustration with hearty High Plains weeds. While we've previously poked at their peskiness, I thought it was time to ingest some info about how very edible some of them are. From the more common dandelion wine and greens to sheepshire, lamb's quarter, and bindweed, there are a lot of reasons to give them a try. Sure, advocating a meal made of foraged weeds might sound hard to swallow, but the flavors vary from sour to savory and many are quite rich in nutrients.

To continue my series on things that irk the High Plains gardener, I'll be weilding a blade at the terrible grasses that pester even the most persistent green thumbs. Today's Growing on the High Plains will offer a snapshot of some of the grasses that have bothered my space—some known, and some that began as a mystery. I'll provide tips on how to best the beasts, tame the tails, and starve the stalks.

What makes a weed? Well, it depends on who you ask. Some have a lot in common with wildflowers, but good luck beating them back if you choose to introduce them into your space. Today's Growing on the High Plains regards the eternally pesky presence of weeds. We'll dig in on some of our region's most common weeds, like dandelions, loosestrife, Johnson grass, and more. The coming weeks will bring more discussion of gardening challenges, so stay tuned. If you have questions, feel free to reach out to me directly here.  

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.

For those of you who have been loyal member-listeners of High Plains Public Radio through the years,  this Thursday will feel a little familiar. IT'S GARDEN BASKET TIME on High Plains Morning!

Today's Growing on the High Plains will put a hold on the topic of gardening and rather reflect on two people who nourished my life and growth: my father and father-in-law. Both men had a common bond, as they each had a hand in defending our country in World War II—and there's an even more incredible link in the machinery of it all. From my heart to yours, have a happy, safe, and fulfilling Father's Day.

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.

Decades ago, when planning a landscape for our prairie home, there were a few things we wanted to make sure we had on the grounds. In addition to the need for shelter belts and a desire for various gardens, we also included plenty of space for an orchard. Anyone who attempts to grow tree fruits on the High Plains knows that it can often times feel like a fool's errand. But while the rewards are few and far between, the sheer delight in creating jams, jellies, cobblers and pies makes it all worth it.

You might be noticing the flapping shadows at your porchlight a little more than usual this year. It seems the "Army Cutworm," also known as the "Miller Moth," has had a good year in our region—which can mean trouble for our gardens. Today's Growing on the High Plains takes a closer look at these fuzzy, flying evening foes. While finicky felines might take delight in batting and catching these living toys, I can't wait until they take flight for more distant pastures. 

   

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.

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.

Pages