High Plains Public Radio

Skip Mancini

Producer and host of High Plains History and Growing on the High Plains

Home community: rural Haskell County, KS (PO Box 699, Sublette, KS  67877)

Phone: (800) 678--7444 (Garden City studios)

Ways to Connect

It's autumn, so what better time to take a walk through a garden within a garden within a garden?

On today's installment of Growing on the High Plains, I'll zip you off to the Big Apple so we can explore the many wonders of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden—an incredible space that features phenomenal themed gardens, diverse pavilions, an eco-center, educational classes, and shade trees that seem to spread out as wide as our region's prairies.

Happy Thanksgiving  to all of our HPPR listeners!

To mark the holiday, I'm shaking free a few loose memories from beneath the pecan trees of my past. They say this holiday is all about reflecting on our blessings and spending time with family -- even if a few of our relations can be a little nuts.

Enjoy this Thanksgiving edition of Growing on the High Plains, and I wish you all a peaceful meal full of bounty and gratitude...and a big slice of pecan pie! 

On today's episode of Growing on the High Plains, mum's the word. (I'm talking about the flower, of course.)

Ask any gardener in our region and you're likely to hear a chorus of praise for the chrysanthemum. They're colorful, hearty, elegant, and resilient -- a real High Plains hero. But mid-November is a bit of a crossroads for these favorites, so learn how you can reuse and rescue today's mums for tomorrow's garden.  

While home gardening has certainly seen a rich resurgence in recent years, planting food crops for the purposes of conserving and preserving dates back to a time of meager means.  

Today on Growing on the High Plains, I'll share some history and context regarding the American "victory garden." Self-sufficient citizens that planted and maintained food plots helped supplement shortages in a time of war. Nurturing fresh food for the troops (and the family table) provided a sense of service, pride, and community.  

Finding enough space for a hearty garden is not a problem you would think affects most of us on the High Plains. However, gardeners all over the world have become increasingly adept at creating a manageable growing space in a compact area.

Today's installment of Growing on the High Plains looks at one smart solution: straw bale gardens. They're raised, tidy, hospitable to seeds, and can yield a spectacular crop with care and attention. 

Have you ever wanted s'more information about the origin of those squishy, sweet puffs we all take for granted around the campfire?  

Today's Growing on the High Plains peeps at the ancient origin of the marshmallow, and it's hiding in plain sight. Join us as we tap the root of the "mallow plant," commonly found around marshy wetlands. 

From mucilaginous medicine to confection perfection, this treacly treat goes WAY back -- and the story of its cultivation is more than just fluff.

This week's edition of Growing on the High Plains features a regional bird of paradise that's both easy to maintain and brilliant when in bloom: the bromeliad. With minor maintenance, this sturdy plant will continue to grow, gracing your garden with its glory. So it's a lot like public radio! Please help HPPR continue to "pretty up" your days on the High Plains. Donate today during our Fall Membership Drive.  

Today's edition of Growing on the High Plains asks you to hearken to our High Plains history as we ponder the lot of early pioneers, especially what harvest time meant to them. 

Like our forefathers who settled this land, so must we all pitch in to ensure a bounty when it's needed. (Just ask the Little Red Hen!) Today, we ask YOU to take a moment and consider what it is that you reap from HPPR's programming.

This week's installment of Growing on the High Plains provides an inside scoop on how best to beckon bashful butterflies to your High Plains garden. 

  From deadheading your branching mums to seizing (rather than sneezing) rods of gold, these well-worn pointers will ensure an influx of "flying flowers" to your all-you-can-eat growing space.  Learn what to plant and how to prune so that you'll optimize unannounced visits from thirsty nectar collectors.   

Ripe, fragrant fruit from the orchard is the apple of any gardener's eye.

Too bad this year's crop of apples had an abundance of beady, little eyes of their own. 

This week's installment of Growing on the High Plains gets to the core of how to avoid "coddling" common uninvited guests that often make cozy homes in our summer fruit trees.

"The fairies break their dances and leave the printed lawn." —A.E. Housman

This week on Growing on the High Plains, I have an offbeat tale about odd circles that seem to crop up supernaturally on the grass. Rest assured: there's a logical reason for the peculiar presence of these "fairy rings," especially given this summer's peculiarities.  Whether they're marked by darkness or puffs of white, learn more about this serpentine fungus among us.  

They pray. They prey.

But pray/prey tell: why is it that gardeners have been seeing more of these elegant insects this year? Whatever the reason, they're a welcome sight -- not only for their alien-esque arabesques, but also because they feast on pests like something out of a horror film.

Hear more about mantids on this week's edition of Growing on the High Plains.

And it's a good one! (Don't forget your popcorn.) 

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

By Skip Mancini

It's back to school for kids across the High Plains, so I'd like to submit this audio essay about my summer travels.

As we revel in the centennial of the U.S. National Park Service, what better time to check out what Ken Burns's documentary calls "America's Best Idea?" Today's episode of Growing on the High Plains highlights our extraordinary trip to  Yellowstone National Park. 

Gardeners, when was the last time you had a young one at your side while you played in the dirt? Consider turning your next venture outdoors into a little life lesson for a child unfamiliar with our methods. When you plant a seed in the mind of a child, you never know what will grow.

Today we'll consider the many important lessons that can be learned from a visit to the garden. By encouraging a child's natural curiosity about plants, dirt, and how things grow, you teach them valuable knowledge about their world -- and where exactly they fit within it.

Children seem to experience a singular wonder when you put them in a garden -- something beyond the splendor of the grass, the blush of a plump pear, and the inviting smells and creatures. They also tend to tune in to what that garden says about its curator.

Today we'll take a walk through my garden, but please enter with a child's honest curiosity. As you survey the bean vines flanked with flowers, perhaps you'll see an unlikely shelter. I know I did. 

Don't let chaos reign in your flower garden!

 Join me as we embark on PART TWO of our segment discussing those beautiful-and-beastly blooms: perennials. On today's show, you'll learn to parse out the "spreaders" from the "clumpers." 

Plus, just a few tips on digging up the mother plant, handling the root ball, and singling out which species might be invasive.   

  

Gardeners have a saying about perennials: "The first year they sleep; the second year they creep; and the third year they leap."

Today on Growing on the High Plains, we'll unearth a few common myths about these boisterous blooms, which are quite misunderstood by beginning gardeners. If you go into the ground with a deeper understanding of what to expect from perennials, you'll sooner reap the sweet smell of success.

Some days it's so hot you have to shake your fists at the sky and ask, "Are you Sirius?" And the dog star would blink down at you and answer, "I sure am."

In this week's edition of Growing on the High Plains, Skip takes us through the origins of the phrase "Dog Days of Summer," which has more to do with  ancients musing about the night sky than it does panting pups on the prairie. 

Let's talk about native plants, and what they can add to YOUR High Plains garden. Not only do these natural neighbors have what it takes to survive in our unpredictable climates, they also make a seamless habitat for indigenous birds and bugs -- many of whom are crucial to the health of our landscape. 

This week's episode of "Growing on the High Plains" jabs into the secret life of A-G-A-S-T-A-C-H-E. How do you pronounce that? You'll have to listen to find out! Truly, it can be pronounced many ways, just as it's also known for its many spikes of blooming color. Enjoy this in-depth peek at a southwest native, also known as hyssop, that can add beautiful brushstrokes across your High Plains garden. 

wikipedia.org

Although apricots should be a stable staple of the fruit basket on the High Plains, the cantankerous spring weather often found in Western Kansas often gives skimpy rewards.  But sometimes just the sight of their early colorful blooms makes them worth the effort.   

Green Bean Therapy

Jun 29, 2016

Let's talk about the life cycle of green beans, learn a little history of the plant, and talk about my favorite variety.  I enjoy picking beans in the cool morning.  In the company of my cats, I let my mind drift to the past and search out the future, line out chores to be done, and sometimes I find lost perspectives.  Leave your day planner on the desk and come out to the bean row if you really want to put your life in order.    

www.xerces.org

    

Today, Skip talks with Anthony Zukoff, and gets his list of favorite plants to put in your pollinator garden.  They are: blazing star, bee balm, golden rod, and milk weeds.

You can ask Anthony questions by searching for "Friends of Sand Sage Bison Range" on Facebook or by emailing him at: AZukoff@gmail.com

kshs.org

Today we'll talk with Anthony Zukoff.  He's an expert in Ecology, Zoology, and Entomology.  We'll get to know a little about the man, what took him from his roots on the East Coast to the High Plains of Southwestern Kansas.  

You can ask Anthony questions by searching for "Friends of Sand Sage Bison Range" on Facebook or by emailing him at: AZukoff@gmail.com

Monkey Munches

Jun 1, 2016
leerichardsonzoo.org

I've been working for the past few month on a production to help raise money for the new Primate Center at the Lee Richardson Zoo in Garden City, Kansas.  It's given me an opportunity to talk with the keepers about what kinds of plants the animals need to provide both food and habitat.

presbyirisgardens.org

My grandmother called them flags, they've also been known as "poor man's orchids," but this flower is hardy and just right for growing on the High Plains.

wordsforworms.com

A card from a dear friend inspired me to think awhile about all the quotes about gardens.  

I was surprised to find some of my favorites were about weeds, like this one said by Eeyore, "Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them.  

I've also been fond of Luther Burbank's, "Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful;  they are sunshine, food, and medicine for the soul."

Or these two that made me stop, and consider carefully what my garden says about me:

pinterest.com

There's a new kind of cherry that seems just right for our High Plains.  It's easier to harvest, sweeter, and by all accounts has great potential to be a cherry of a deal in an edible landscape.   

teachmama.com

A Christmas gift from a friend inspires Skip to learn to try her hand at growing and processing her own supply of pickled beets.

Daffodils and Poetry

Apr 27, 2016
bay.ifas.ufl.edu

 Plants and poetry are frequent partners, and perhaps no combination of the literary and the horticultural is better known that Wordsworth and daffodils.  His love of the great outdoors prompted him to walk across England and then all of Europe, during which time he penned his famous descriptive poem that begins,

"I wandered lonely as a cloud/That floats on high o'er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd/A host, of golden daffodils."

This week we're exploring my fondness for daffodils, and the reasons they're perfect for growing on the High Plains.

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