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

"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.

New Mexico's Yucca

Apr 20, 2016

This week we’ll complete our state flower series with a tribute to a plant that can take the heat and thrive on very little water, making it a good choice for many of the gardens in our High Plains Public Radio broadcast area.

oklahomafun.facts.co

Over the years controversy and debate have run rampant concerning the original choice for Oklahoma’s state flower.  To cover all the bases and please various strong willed groups from the Sooner State, officials wound up with three floral choices and three honorary titles.    

    

Goldenrod is a wallflower, standing in the background, while other flowers in the garden take center stage.  It has been blamed for watery eyes and runny noses, when in fact, the true cause of those allergy symptoms is probably ragweed which blooms at the same time.  Goldenrod has taken the heat for years for, but its  blame without substantiation.  It is a rare gardener to take up the cause of the Goldenrod, but I like this plant.  It has a place in my garden. 

Kansas Sunflowers

Mar 24, 2016

    This week’s sojourn into our series honoring state flowers takes us along the highways, byways, and flatlands of the Sunflower State.  And we’ll renew our quest for an answer to one of botany’s intriguing mysteries. Sunflowers in Kansas can be regarded as a cash crop, a highlight of the flower garden, or one of the most colorful weeds along the roadways.  In any case, they’re a welcome sight. 

Texas Bluebonnets

Mar 15, 2016

Bluebonnets don’t bloom very long, but when they do they are the highlight of a trip to Texas.  We’ll look at ways to try and ‘grow your own’, giving them  lots of sun and not much water. But the best way to experience bluebonnets is to travel down to Central Texas in March and April and take in the native wildflowers as they carpet the roadways.

wikipedia.org

Just when the winter doldrums are about to  win the boredom trophy, here comes a breath of fresh air and springtime!  Colorful pansies are just the thing to get you going in the garden, as they survive frosty weather.  And if it’s still too arctic outside, you can start them indoors by nesting them in a bowl of potting soil. 

Colorado Columbines

Mar 8, 2016
rosemarywashington.wordpress.com

 This week we’ll revisit a series on state flowers that belong to the areas that High Plains Public Radio serves.  We’ll start by traveling to colorful Colorado and a look at their glorious mountain columbines.   

eatocracy.cnn.com

A look at what’s being served up on the tables of New York exposes lots of crawlies that some people proclaim to be creepy and others think are delicious.  And a bit of investigation exposes a world wide market for bugs that might help stave off starvation for some, while helping to save the planet for all of us.  

commons.wikimedia.org

An unusual horticultural bargain brought about an investigation of one of Mexico’s most playful exports.  These beans aren’t for the dinner table, but they can sometimes be found on the gaming tables of a casino!

Loveweed

Feb 10, 2016
litreactor.com

This week we’ll revisit a valentine favorite as we investigate a parasite plant with a past history of telling fortunes and futures.  

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