We'll kick off the new year with a look at a tradition that grew from the traffic of slave ships to the farmlands of the American South. Whatever you call them -- black-eyes, crowders, cream peas or purple hulls, these legumes have long been a basic element of survival. Thought to be a symbol of good luck in the future, they could definitely bring you the wealth of good health, as they are nutritious and delicious dished up on a New Year's Day.
A giant bulb can bring blooms to brighten the holiday and with a bit of attention they'll usually stay around long enough to banish the "after holiday blues". Today we'll also cover the minimal care and feeding of your amaryllis throughout the rest of the year, so that you can have a repeat success for many Christmas seasons to come.
In the fall of 1904, the neighbors of the Texas Panhandle got together to drive their cattle to Liberal, Kansas. A blizzard caught them, and they were gone for three weeks. Listen to Dave Miller tell of a Christmas morning surprise-- complete with pies.
During a week when holiday blooms appear at every turn, we'll look at the history of the giant amaryllis bulb and pause from our shopping long enough to ask, "What's in a name?" And then we'll learn about the confusion between South African and South American blooms that ultimately became world travelers with multiple monikers. But no matter, because whatever they've been called over the past five centuries, they still say 'Season's Greetings' around the world.
Melons are most often thought of as summertime treats, and many High Plains gardens offer them up during the hottest part of the growing season. But our subject today is a melon type that produces in the heat but has the staying power to become a prized centerpiece for holiday tables. Santa Claus or Christmas melons have a few things going for them that set them apart from regular cantaloupes or honeydews, and that's the reason they can last so long off the vine.
This week we'll look at items both from and for the garden, with some special attention given to finding gifts that might make gardening chores a bit easier for senior gardeners. We'll also look at some 'gifts from the soil' that don't really require soil, thus making them ideal holiday items for those who miss not having a garden of their own anymore.
After a series of late freezes wiped out a good deal of my garden I accepted the hard truth that I would have to buy vegetables and fruits that were not usually on my shopping list. But around mid-summer I discovered that a favorite fruit that had been getting harder and harder to produce had decided to literally burst upon the scene and give me a late summer season of the best tomatoes I'd produced in years. So this year I'm giving thanks for The Return of the Ripe Tomato!
You don't have to look the world over for evidence that honeybees are in trouble. A global disaster is in the making, and it's evident right in our backyards. Today Growing on the High Plains looks at the worries of beekeepers in Western Kansas, and the things we'll lose from our table when we lose the honeybees. Get ready to say so long to a myriad of fruits, nuts, and vegetables that depend on the honeybee for pollination.
Look! Up in the sky! It's a Bird....it's a plane....no, it's a honeybee just taking off from the roof of a high rise hotel! During a trip to the New York City area we were headquartered at a hotel that provided spectacular views of the city skyline and an up close and personal look at some in-house methods of bringing nature indoors. From a lobby lined with herbs planted into the walls to a rooftop that was home to thousands of honeybees who daily worked the surrounding New Jersey farmlands, this Regency hotel is doing its best to be a good neighbor to it's guests, the surrounding community, and the environment.
As wildlife habitats continue to disappear at an alarming rate, it's important to remember that these areas are critical to the survival of not only animals of the woodlands and prairies but also the insects that are essential to the creation of many of our food sources. Production of countless fruits and vegetables depends on visits from a variety of flying insects that search out pollinators in your yard and garden.
It's hard to garden in dry, arid, temperamental climates. Skip Mancini had an opportunity to talk with Tom Gillan, owner of Native Nursery, about the challenges and opportunities the high plains present.
Tom is a Garden City native, who moved to Golden, Colorado in the 1980s. There he started Native Nursery with the mission to create beautiful places with plants that will thrive.
Skip has a special guest in today. Tom Gillan dropped by to talk about the differences between landscaping in public areas versus a home. Tom is the owner of Native Nursery in Golden, Colorado. He also talked about his current project: Cat Canyon at the Lee Richardson Zoo in Garden City, Kansas.
This summer has been filled with delight because of the mass migration of black swallowtails who have been making my garden their home. Though they love to hang out around the butterfly bushes and rest up in the cool damp earth around the little outdoor fountain, when it comes to creating offspring they head for the herb garden. There the clumps of dill weed seem to be the favorite food of the black, green and yellow striped caterpillars that have quietly invaded and are munching their way along the stems and seed heads. The dill looks a bit forlorn for a few days, but bounces right back in time for the next wave of butterflies that are looking for a bit of real estate.
As our weather moves toward the cool and crispy days of autumn, it heralds changes to the gardening routine. As gardens and lawns slow down and give you a bit more time, don't forget that this is the best time to add trees and shrubs to your landscape. Today GHP covers some basics of fall planting, to get your tree or shrub off to a good start.
Skip talks on the phone with Dyck Arboretum Executive Director, Scott Vogt.
This week a special event is taking place at the Dyck Arboretum in Hesston, Kansas. FloraKansas is the largest native plant sale in the state, and will take place Thursday, September 5 through Sunday, September 8. This event has been going on for 14 years, and its popularity is growing almost as rapidly as the numbers of native perennials, wildflowers and grasses that will be offered for sale. More information about the location, hours and available plants can be found by calling 620-327-8127, or going online to www.dyckarboretum.org. A visit to this special place is always a joy, and the plant sale this weekend makes it even more fun and informative.
A look back at my past gardening challenges brings up the myriad of difficulties one faces when trying to grow tomatoes. These most popular fruits of our gardening labors require consistent record keeping, as you don't ever want to plant them in the same space within a three year period. Tomatoes can suffer from a wide variety of soil-borne and airborne illnesses, as well as being the target of a horde of insects that can eat or infect the foliage of your prize plants. After years of fighting against blight, viruses, unpredictable weather patterns, and beastly bugs, I've decided that perhaps the best solution to my tomato problems is found in the adage about 'safety in numbers'.
Although buffalo grass is still my lawn of choice for the dry and windy area we call the Southern High Plains, this summer it has been hard pressed to bounce back from our third year of ongoing drought and high temperatures. As our area of the world seems to be turning more desert-like, even this native of the short grass prairie will need occasional water and maybe a shot of nutrients to do its best. But it still offers the best alternative when planning a lawn that can stand up to all the challenges our climate has to offer.
In a continuing investigation of landscape plans utilizing grass gardens, this week we'll look at Little Bluestem. This hardy 'bunch' or 'clump' grass is of a more manageable size than it's bigger relative, the Big Bluestem of the tall grass prairies. Little Bluestem can serve as an eye-catching accent plant, or as a seasonal backdrop for wildflowers or other blooming plants. And in its native habitat it provides forage for grazing animals and shelter for various birds and wildlife.
This week's show introduces elements of a landscape plan that promises to be more efficient and effective in an environment that seems to be moving toward the hotter and drier side of gardening. Ornamental grasses can offer a rich variety of size, texture and color to a planted area or in a series of containers. And they can provide visual interest almost year round, as many grass gardens can show off fall colors and wintertime backdrops when other plants have been put to rest.
Gardening season can offer a great alternative to going to the gym in order to find physical fitness. Various activities like pushing a lawnmower, digging a new flower bed, or transplanting perennials can all add up to feeling and looking better through at least three seasons of the year. If you are working on weight loss, in addition to counting calories, try counting metabolic equivalents or METs, to meet your goals.
Our second visit to Busy Bee Farms in Kismet Kansas takes us for a tour of internal workings of the greenhouses that produce literal layers of tomatoes, as well as lettuce, cucumbers and other vegetables. Pond plants and koi fish provide some tropical looking landscapes on our walk-through. We'll also get the buzz on the insect population that helps pollinate and protect the produce and plants.
Today we'll start a special three part series that began as a stop-over at Busy Bee Farms in Southwest Kansas. I found out about this great place when I bought a little container of delicious tomatoes that sported the Busy Bee logo and implored me to 'buy local'.
I've finally given up the ghost in terms of trying to grow azaleas in a climate where they are not meant to be. I don't really know why some of us who like to garden on the High Plains won't take no for an answer, and stick to the plants that are meant for our near-desert terrain and weather. As I write this the calendar has just moved past the first week of June and the thermometer is edging above 104 degrees at early afternoon. Azaleas are Southern belles, needing moisture, reasonable winds and more acidic soil than we have in Western Kansas. If I want azaleas in my life from now on, they'll come in pots with foil wraps and big bows that put a touch of springtime on the Easter buffet table or a Mother's Day brunch.
What began as a decorative planting in a city park has developed into a love affair with an evergreen tree that may hold one of the keys to solving a major problem on the prairies and pastures of the High Plains. Three years ago, we planted a memorial garden for my mother in our local city park.
A trip to the Red Hills southwest of Medicine Lodge, Kansas, can be an eye opener for both beautiful countryside and an invading horde of Eastern Red Cedars -- a good tree gone bad. Red cedars have been a part of the history of the Great Plains from Texas to Canada, and were once controlled from over-population by natural wildfires. But with the advent of civilization, fires have been controlled to the point that the tree is taking over grazing lands and disastrous results are being reported. Reduced cattle forage, numbers of grassland birds (especially the prairie chicken), lesser numbers of other wildlife, and decreased stands of wildflowers are a result of the forestation of the prairie. One of the most serious side effects is the drain on water supplied from natural aquifers and annual rainfall.
Skip rescues a parking lot plant and then reminisces about past experiences centered around the scent of patchouli. The aromatic herb has a rich history, beginning with ancient civilizations who used it for medicinal purposes, or as a practical packing for the transport of treasured fabrics from the Orient. Its moth-repellent properties gave a heavy, spicy odor to the silks and brocades that signaled the wearer was from the wealthier classes. It soon became an important ingredient in perfumes, oils and lotions for the upper classes. A look at a modern use of patchouli leads us through