This spring's harvests of blooms and berries have really been a guessing game. A bin-buster harvest of strawberries came at least a month earlier than usual, along with irises. But normally plentiful peas and other cool-weather crops seem to playing a waiting game. I have to place the blame on an on-again-off-again winter weather season, but what else is new in our corner of the world.
This week we'll look at the hows and whys of growing gourds, on both an ornamental or functional level. Related to squash and cucumbers, few varieties are popular as edibles, but numerous types can serve in various ways. Most of the work of producing gourds comes not with the growing but with how they are treated after the harvest. Curing and cleaning are the first steps in a process that can produce bird houses, feeders, nifty containers, or art objects.
A trip to the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show brought me face to face with a family of gourds that were watching me as I was watching them. This whimsical art form has been mastered by a garden artist named Betty Finch, and she does wonderful things with gourds big and small. Don't miss the slide show!
This year I'm making some changes in my vegetable garden layout, and moving some of it closer to the kitchen door. On the way, we'll look at a brief history of the term 'kitchen garden' and find out what things usually grow there.
Put some new colors in your garden by planting and growing purple asparagus. This springtime taste treat is guaranteed to be as tasty as the traditional green varieties, and some say it's sweeter and more tender because it has a 20% higher natural sugar content. Add to that the high levels of anthocyanins that give it the purple color and some great health benefits such as anti-inflammatory and anti-cancerous properties. It's not readily available in stores, so you might as well listen to this week's show and learn to grow your own.
One of the major markets for mint occurs during the Kentucky Derby, when mint juleps are served up to anyone with a desire to taste them and toast the famous horseracing event. But the sharp taste and smell of mint makes it a major player not only at the racetrack, but in herb gardens, gourmet kitchens, and apothocary shops throughout the world. This week we'll investigate the many kinds of mint, and issue some well-intentioned warnings about planting it, in a way that will allow it to become a highlight and not a nightmare in your garden.
A new sensation is sweeping the nation of niche gardeners, and this week's show looks at the popularity of fairy gardens. We'll cover the background of fairies and why people decided to open their homes and gardens to them. We'll also look at some basics of plant selection and care of these minature landscapes.
Regular listeners to Growing on the High Plains may remember last September's story about the Survivor Tree that resides at the 9/11 World Trade Center site in New York City. This week we'll visit the middle of the country to talk about another heroic tree that survived the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. Twenty years ago the tree was thought of as another casualty of that brutal and outrageous act. But today the American Elm stands tall and graceful, spreading its limbs to provide shade and comfort to all who visit the outdoor memorial. Join us to learn of the history and to pay tribute to this botanical hero.
There are lots of reasons, pro and con, for living in California, but perhaps one of the best reasons for putting down roots has to do with a citrus treat called the Meyer lemon. A cross between a lemon and an orange, they came to the U.S. by way of China in the early 1900s. They have soft skins and lots of juice, and because of that they were never developed as a commercial lemon, capable of being shipped across the country. Instead they became a homeowner's favorite, growing in backyards and providing flavorful fruit on nearly a year-round basis. Rarely seen at inland stores and markets, they are one of many things that make travelling to sunny California so enjoyable.
If you live on the Southern High Plains and you like to grow things, then you know what a gamble spring planting dates are. Just when you think you'll have some early goodies to gather in a few weeks, a blizzard can rear its ugly head down in the Southwest and sweep across our part of the world in nothing flat, leaving us with seedbeds under a foot or two of snow. In our part of the world, March comes in like a lion and often leaves with another mighty roar.
What's new in the latest 'tater talley? Well, small is hot and colors are definitely in fashion as new, creamy, and even two-toned potatoes take to the runway. This year the Mancini garden plot will feature some haute cuisine, as well as some tried-and-true old favorites. And we'll take a quick look at the pros and cons of the traditional St. Patrick's Day planting of potatoes.
A look at several botanicals that are often best known by their common monikers. Burro's tail, string of pearls, and mother-in-law's tongue are long lasting houseplants that have earned a place in my home because they can take the heat, both in and out of the kitchen.
A trip to the supermarket produce section can result in great beginnings for growing your own bromeliads. This week's Growing on the High Plains looks at a popular tropical plant that doesn't take a lot of care and pays off with beautiful blooms for weeks on end.
Growing your own orchids can be challenging unless you plan ahead and consider investing some time in learning what makes these tropical flowers so special to so many floral fans. Today we'll talk about air, water, light, and growing mediums.
A look at the history and development of one of the largest plant groupings in the world. As with many other life forms, these fragile tropical plants are facing a questionable future in the wild, which makes their development in botanical gardens, protected areas, and commercial outlets all the more valuable.
A look at some of the most popular and easiest houseplants to keep you in greenery for the cold season. Skip looks at the four basics needs of a healthy houseplant, and how to create a suitable environment in often overheated winter homes.
Thank goodness for houseplants. Without them, gardeners might have a hard time making it through the hard times of winter. Jade is a natural-born houseplant perfect for busy people who want a bit of winter greenery, but don’t want to take on a major houseplant commitment.
Thinking of the holiday season takes me back to my childhood, the smell of black gold in the oil patch, well-worn ornaments, and a gunny sack for collecting mistletoe once the grown-ups knocked it out of the tree with buckshot.
Well, it's taken a long time (I'm not talking about weeks or months, but years) but I think I'm making progress in the department of landscaping with trees. To being with, I've finally adopted the 'less is more' concept, especially on our treeless high plains. There are trees that will grow here, and do pretty well if they have a bit of moisture now and then. But those examples are few and far between.
When Kathleen and Robert Fields moved into their home, the neighborhood was well-established. The backyard was surrounded with ready made shade. Kathleen quickly learned that leaves were great start for compost.
"Great gardens begin with soil building," she says, "You can get a sick plant and bring it back to health if you have good soil."
Kathleen also believes in perennials. She subscribes to this saying, "The first year they sleep. They second they creep. The third they leap."
Today we travel to the sandhills south of Garden City, Kansas to the home of Larry and Carole Geier. The couple has created an oasis in the midst of sagebrush and sand. The location has perks like night skies filled with stars, and some burly neighbors who used to roam the prairie.
Skip travels to Timbercreek Canyon, Texas to talk with Darla Wood.
The Great Garden series continues with a visit to Darla Wood's garden in Timbercreek Canyon, Texas. Darla has tried the traditional lawn route unsuccessfully, and now integrates art and listening what the land wants to be.
Some consider this wildflower a weed, but to Monarch butterflies and those who love them, this perennial is precious and should be a part of every garden. It is also perfectly suited to the high plains climate.
In this look back at Great Gardens across the High Plains, Skip travels to Amarillo, Texas. There she meets Bob Hatton, who took a yard composed primarily of lawn, and created a landscape featuring plants that trigger memories of his childhood like this beautiful redbud tree.