Growing on the High Plains

Airs Thursdays at 10:30 am CT and Saturdays at 8:35 am CT

Years ago Skip Mancini left the rocky coast of Northern California to return to her roots in the heartland. Her San Francisco friends, concerned over her decision to live in a desolate flatland best known for a Hollywood tornado, were afraid she would wither and die on the vine. With pioneer spirit Skip planted a garden, and began to learn about growing not only flowers and vegetables, but hearts and minds. If you agree that the prairie is a special place, we think you'll enjoy her weekly sojourns into Growing on the High Plains. 

Contact Skip Mancini about the program. 

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. 

While our lush, summertime greens fall into Fall, the High Plains often fades to wheaty yellows and golden browns. However, there are ways to keep rich, warm colors popping in your garden as the season's crisp chill creeps across the flatlands. 

On today's Growing on the High Plains, we'll reveal a showy shrub often called the "burning bush." It's easy to maintain in our region and serves a splash of color, from flamboyant fuchsia and ravishing red.  

Finally, we have reached our final installment of Growing on the High Plains where I check in with Steve and Janet Weidner at their fabulous Pumpkin Paradise in Sublette, KS. All that hard work has paid off, and we're thrilled to share so many beautiful photos with you. (As you'll see, the Weidners truly take "growing on the High Plains" to the next level!)

Move over chrysanthemums! There's a hearty new flower in town, and just in time for Autumn.

Today's edition of Growing on the High Plains, we'll get some history on a lovely Fall flower that I'm surprised doesn't get more attention in regional gardens. Meet the aster, whose stellar blooms bring a divine cavalcade of color throughout cooler seasons.  

Sometimes, if you want something done right, you just have to do it yourself. This has certainly been true for some of my more challenging garden endeavors, including Fall gardens. These pose many a hardship for those in our region. In fact, finding adequate seed options might be the biggest yet.

On today's Growing on the High Plains, we'll have a special report from Pumpkin Paradise -- part two of our three-part series. And this time, we'll hear from field correspondent, Bryan Bihorel.

Trudge through the mud with us, as Steve and Janet Weidner reveal the pumpkins' progress across their 12-acre pumpkin patch in Sublette, KS. We'll learn a about squash bees, cucumber beetles, and reproduction -- pumpkin style.

There's a peace in letting nature have its way. I've learned this well after so many years tending gardens in our challenging climate.

Today on Growing on the High Plains, we'll take a late-summer's amble to the Dyck Arboretum of the Plains in Hesston, Kansas -- a singular escape to prairie landscapes past. Come with me as we explore a sanctuary for native trees, shrubs, plants, wildflowers, and grasses -- not to mention education, recreation, birds, fish, and a few literary surprises. 

On today's Growing on the High Plains, we'll examine a non-native plant of biblical proportions. 

Polygonatum, also known as "Solomon's seal," offers much more than meets the eye. It can grow up to four feet in height, bearing beautifully-blanched, bobbing bells that morph into blue-black berries in the autumn. 

Furthermore, its underground root stalks, or rhizomes, are a known herbal remedy. Plus, this darling of the shaded flower bed is known to conceal a religious relic deep in the dirt.  

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 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.

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.

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