Growing on the High Plains

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! 

Have you ever wondered what makes the leaves turn from green to gold in Autumn? Well, today on Growing on the High Plains, we'll take a trip to New England and visit the astonishing color show provided by the regional trees and shrubbery. Tune in to find out more regarding the science behind the faded shades of Spring as they break into the blaringly-bright hues of Fall.

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 might seem odd to be talking about melons at this late season, but I assure you this installment of Growing on the High Plains will roll right along with this Halloween week. Today I'll share some insight (and secrets) about the hearty, hydrating casaba melon. Indeed it is a winter melon, so it's ripe for discussion on this first day of November.

It's almost Halloween, so I thought I'd spend this week's edition of Growing on the High Plains prattling on about an October tradition: pumpkins! From tiny, white and smooth to huge, gray and bumpy, pumpkins these days are hardly limited to the traditional orange orbs of yore.

They say good things come to those who wait. On today's Growing on the High Plains, I'd like to discuss a biennial for which many a gardener has been very patient. I'm talking about Lunaria annua, also known as honesty or money plant. While biennials typically take a couple years to crop up, this one is well worth the wait. 

Not many things in life come easy. So when I first learned of a hearty houseplant with glorious blooms that didn't need much attention, I thought it might be a thing of fables.  On today's edition of Growing on the High Plains, I will extol the many benfits of the beautiful bromeliad — and how, not unlike High Plains Public Radio, we can all nurture and grow it with just a little effort and some occastion seed money. 

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.

Today's Growing on the High Plains revisits the beloved couple of donkey neighbors with which I've become fascinated over the years. (If you need a refresher, here's part one!) Just a general check-in with our jack and jenny, this installment will cover a little bit about the daily life of a High Plains donkey. I'll share some of the burdensome history of these beasts, including their role in centuries-old medical and legal practices.

"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.

For those who aren't accustomed to its unique landscape, our High Plains home is certainly a sight to see. After a recent visit from East-coast friends, I felt as if I saw the fields of Kansas with new eyes. 

So today's Growing on the High Plains will take a late-summer pause to review some of the spectacular native prairie grasses you might be taking for granted. Did you know that Kansas has the largest contiguous tract of native remnant—or uncultivated—tall grass prairie? I'll detail the different types common to our region, from the short and medium varieties to the towering tall grass favorites. (And living in a state with all three is a pretty rare thing!)

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.

"Maybe seeing the Plains is like seeing an icon: what seems stern and almost empty is merely open, a door into some simple and holy state." —Kathleen Norris 

On today's Growing on the High Plains, I'd like to share a recent field trip I made in April to the Dyck Arboretum of the Plains in Heston, KS. This natural museum has held a special place in my heart for years, so I wanted to make sure the girls who help me in my garden were also able to experience it firsthand.

"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.

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