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)

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Few things give away a particularly High Plains landscape like a fine-but-fluffy, blue-kissed buffalo grass tickling a horizon. While a staple of our region's ground cover, I wonder why it's not more prevalent and popular. 

On today's Growing on the High Plains, I want to talk about this lush native -- including it's many benefits, and a few pointers for planters. So, buffalo grass, won't ya come out tonight?   

Today on Growing on the High Plains, I'll investigate the history of food fads. 

From gelatinous meats to Amazonian sweets, we'll explore a few consumable crazes from the American archives, as well as edible trends of today.

There's more behind these trendy treats than meets the tongue -- like the environmental impact and the politics of production.  

Get a tissue, because I'm about to set your sinuses ablaze.

Would a pepper by any other name taste just as sweet? Or spicy? Or seasoned? On today's Growing on the High Plains, let's tip our caps to the Capsicum, blow a horn for the peppercorn, and find out "what's the dilly" with the chili. Though different as they may be, these three cousins often answer to the same name: pepper.

When curating one's seasonal planting, most veteran gardeners have their favorites. Time-saving green thumbs often prefer perennials, while those attracted to a regular change of scenery might opt for annuals. 

My passion for growing beets all started with a jar of these vibrant veggies that were homemade and pickled by a friend. Years later, I am proud to say I've reaped many a beet harvest, producing countless batches that were lovingly boiled and bequeathed to others. 

  • On today's Growing on the High Plains, I'll discuss these sturdy root vegetables, their royal history, and their versatile applications -- from soup to dye to insecticide. Thankfully, beets seem to thrive on the High Pains. So I guess it's true: the beet goes on.

 

You might have noticed that our recent High Plains showers have brought forth a few amphibious fellows into yards and gardens across our region.

On today's Growing on the High Plains, I'll give a little advice on how to greet these tubby-tummied pals if you see them hopping and flopping about.  

Despite their grumpy countenance, you should be happy to see them, as they can be a boon to any summer garden.

Today we'll take a trip to a pumpkin paradise, thanks to Steve & Janet Weidner. These two are regional gourd royalty, tending a massive pumpkin and squash farm on the High Plains. 

There's nothing sweeter than true love, but a fresh-picked, ripe strawberry might come close.

On today's edition of Growing on the High Plains, I thought I'd honor the tremendous season we've enjoyed from our berry patch by reflecting on the history of these seedy little fellows. 

From conflicting etymologies of the strawberry's name to calls for cautious consumption given their good grounding, these petite plumpers have a juicy past indeed.  

Father's Day is coming up this weekend, and it made me think back on my own father -- a man with wit, wisdom, and a unique collection of sayings. On today's Growing on the High Plains, I'll share some of his more choice expressions, sage advice, and a little history that shaped him into the man and father that he was. 

I will always cherish my many memories of my dad, and I hope this segment honors the many wonderful fathers across our region. Happy Father's Day, to listeners across the High Plains.

While our region is known for its vast plains and wide open spaces, it's not uncommon for gardeners to experience space constraints from time to time.

If April showers are supposed to bring May flowers, what will our May blizzard bring? 

On today's edition of Growing on the High Plains, I've decided to thaw out an old memory of a particularly harsh winter and the devastation of vegetation that it brought to our region.

But don't worry! It's not all frozen ground and brittle branches. This is a story that celebrates the pioneer spirit of the Plains. Despite nature's cruel cull during the winter of '91, what sprouted from the loss was a renewed sense of stewardship, community, and loving memorial. 

On today's Growing on the High Plains, we'll get to the root of a ravishing vegetable, which is a temperamental but tasty addition to any High Plains garden: the radish, of course.

From its early origins in ancient Egypt and Asia, these sweet-and-spicy, salad-dwelling relics can surprisingly unearth a rainbow of -- as I recently discovered -- incredible, edible eggs.   

On today's Growing on the High Plains, we'll discuss one of my favorite -- and fleeting -- garden guests: English peas. 

When young, they're tender and refined, boasting a fresh sweetness few vegetables can match. (And in our house, given that they're one of my husband's most anticipated arrivals, they never last long.) 

Growing peas on the High Plains can be a bit tricky, but if you follow these pointers, you'll have a light crop of these pretty pods at your nimble fingertips each year.

With the first of May arriving this week, I thought it an apt time to pause and reflect on the historical traditions associated with the special day. From a Red Square affair to a celebration of weather fair, May Day has been associated with a variety of rites and rituals.

To conclude our three-part series on how gardeners new to our region can overcome reduced water access, today's installment of Growing on the High Plains goes underground -- literally. 

In addition to thoughtful xeriscaping and maximizing moisture with mulch, those committed to making water conservation a top priority can consider planning and installing a drip system.  With the flip of a switch, you can ensure that every drop goes  where it's needed -- saving time and energy.

You might remember that last week we reviewed important insider intel' about how to keep High Plains gardens growing without wasting water.

Today’s installment of Growing on the High Plains continues this topic, so as not to leave anyone high and dry when it comes to best practices regarding conservation.  

For those of us thirsty for tips and reminders about how we can make the most of our gardens on the High Plains, today's show will be of special interest.

Join me as I revisit the importance of planting and prepping to make the most of every drop of water -- whether it comes from our watering can or our big sky above.

You might have noticed that community gardening has grown in popularity across the High Plains and the nation in recent years. Home gardeners often feel that coming together with others to nurture shared spaces to benefit one's own community gets at the root of why we love to grow, harvest, and share the bounty. 

Impatient for impatients? Vying for violets? Coveting lovage? Eager for leeks? Looking forward to a forage? Hurtin' for dirt? 

Nothing dampens winter doldrums like that first purple peeper pushing up through your still-chilly garden or yard. (Or maybe she's white or gold?)

Whatever petals she's pushing, the first crocus remains an annual celebration of the hope and promise of the lush Spring to come.   

Today's installment of Growing on the High Plains takes a long look at these punctual pals. With their knack for tackling the gale-force gusts and dry climate of our region, there's no denying the mighty crocus will ever emerge triumphant -- especially in the hearts of the winter weary.

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There’s a method to my madness when it comes to growing potatoes and it has nothing to do with March. While many people plant their potatoes on St. Patrick’s Day, perhaps because Irish cobbler is everyone’s favorite spud, my planting schedule is determined entirely by, well, when I have time.

Then in late summer, after I have unearthed the brown roots as if hunting for buried treasure, I stash them away. Then, with a little luck of the Irish, hope they will last through the holidays to the New Year so they can make their way into some soup.

Mash them. Hash them. Slice, dice, or fry them. No matter how they're prepared, the potato remains one of the world's most popular side dishes. However, a little research will unearth quite a history.

On this week's edition of Growing on the High Plains, we'll dig up the dirt on this radical root vegetable -- from it's little-known origin story to it's controversial reception across the globe.

Whether whipped into wig dust, carved for a crime, or impaled for juvenile amusement, this shape-shifting spud has certainly seen a lot through its many eyes.

You wouldn't think anyone's grandmother would take their grandchild into the woods to pluck a poisonous plant for a noonday snack.

However, today's edition of Growing on the High Plains takes me back to my childhood memories of foraging pokeweed, also known as pokeberry, inkberry, and Phytolacca americana.   

This potentially toxic foliage has applications ranging from succulent side dish to a berry-based dye to a handy home remedy.

 

We all have one: that list of  garden chores we scribbled down with good intentions.

It's that back-burner list that is far less pressing than the imminent "dig in the dirt" directives.

Though each year, some of those stagnant "to-do" items never seem to get "to-done." 

Today on Growing on the High Plains, I share my experiences with the daunting task of prioritizing what must be done and what can linger a little longer. 

Today's  installment of Growing on the High Plains  might feel a bit like an audio submission to the Antiques Roadshow, as I share with you the history of my prized collection of authentic McCoy pottery.

More than a century ago, Nelson McCoy  founded his famed stoneware company in Roseville, Ohio. The vessels were noted for their simple, utilitarian design, as well as their durable, high-quality construction. In fact, I can attest that these puppies are indeed resilient -- even in the face of a potential catastrophe.

Scroll down for some snapshots of my assembled assortment of antique McCoy planters. As you can see, they're almost as pretty as the plants they present.

Valentine's day is coming, and love is in the air. So today on Growing on the High Plains, I'll tell you about an enchanted, amorous bloom often referred to as "Love in a Mist." 

You know how that special someone makes you feel like you're walking on air? Likewise, these bright, ethereal blooms appear to levitate over a frothy, feathered bed of foliage.  But watch out! Like lovers, they'll grow thorny with time. Thankfully, like love, they're always worth the trouble.

To some people, a plant is a plant is a plant. But to the phytophilous (or plant-loving) High Plains gardener, identifying our native flora can often be as fun as tending their beds.

Today's installment of Growing on the High Plains compares two competing conventions.

First, we'll discuss the often-complex botanical naming system used to identify various species of plants. (Sometimes, it's all Latin to me.)

Next, I'll share a few of the delightful "common names" often used as shorthand when describing three of my favorite house plants.

We've all seen them.

Those curious mirrored balls, perched among the pansies, gracing the gladiolas, and reflecting a fish-eye panorama of the garden in which it resides?

Well, these ocular orbs have a long history! On today's Growing on the High Plains, I'll round out your knowledge of these garden globes, including a personal story of how I acquired my own.  

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