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. 

Colorado Columbines

Mar 8, 2016

 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.

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.

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!


Feb 10, 2016

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

Saving Amaryllis

Feb 3, 2016

Recycle those glorious holiday plants and use them again next year!  It’s fairly easy to babysit these favorite flowering bulbs, first in house during the rest of the cold weather, then outside in the spring and summer.  Give them time to adjust to a new bloom schedule in the fall and they’ll serve you well next Christmas.

Bonsai Basics

Jan 30, 2016

The unexpected arrival of a beautiful bonsai gift caused me to look back to a previous program on the background and basics of this ancient garden art form.

The staff of the Carleen Bright Arboretum in Central Texas introduced me to the Growing Wild Butterfly Gardening Program, and gave me an opportunity to observe some of their beautiful butterfly habitats.  This week we’ll take a look at some butterfly gardening basics provided by the Texas parks and Wildlife Department and the Urban Fish and Wildlife Program.

Here's a list of recommended plants:  black-eyed Susan, butterfly weed, curly parsley, Indian blanket, mealy blue sage, purple cone flower, dill, lemon mint and scarlet sage.

A Bright Spot in Waco

Jan 13, 2016

 A trip to central Texas included an opportunity to explore the Carleen Bright Arboretum near Waco.  Established in the summer of 1999, this multi-purpose public space invites residents and tourists alike to explore the various gardens, classrooms, and community buildings.   HPPR listeners are invited to come along for a quick tour!

An Awesome Autumn

Jan 6, 2016
Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation

A look back to the past year brought grateful thoughts and many thanks for the abundant rainfall that helped make autumn 2015 a blaze of foliage and color.  And a review of some old-fashioned weather forecasting observations brings some humor and perhaps a bit of truth to the outlook for the months ahead.  

Rosemary Tree

Dec 30, 2015

 Rosemary is an inexpensive, fragrant, and right-sized Christmas tree substitute for office and apartments.  And, if the plant doesn't survive let it dry and use on potatoes or lamb.

This holiday season brought two frontier explorers to the Mancini homestead.  The red pair reminds me winter won't last forever, and brightens the dreary landscape.

Skip's quest to continue the tradition of a live Christmas tree takes her back to Brandt Nursery in Boise City, Oklahoma.  A Douglas Fir catches her eye, and she takes it home with Gunther Brandt's words echoing in her head, "Now  that Doug Fir is kind of a foreigner, so keep his feet moist and give him a shower bath as often as possible.  And, put him some place where he's protected from this dry wind."

Today Skip shares how her potted Christmas tree tradition beautifies her home during the holiday season, then goes on to function in her shelterbelt.  The living trees give protection from High Plains winds, add splendor to the landscape, and serve as a reminder of Christmases past.

Skip discovers a rare and special holiday tree whose relatives are actually older than Methuselah.  

Conserve Confusion

Nov 25, 2015

This holiday season that is generally dedicated to cooking and eating has brought on the need for a bit of research into the art of canning, serving, and naming fanciful fruit spreads.  So before setting down to a series of Thanksgiving  feasting, we'll look for answers to questions about the differences among jams, jellies, preserves, compotes, conserves, marmalades, and fruit butters.  Though they do have their differences, take it from me that they can all be delicious.    

Ongoing Orchard

Nov 18, 2015

Just when I should probably be cutting back on the size of my horticultural investments, and planning a smaller and more manageable homefront, I've decided to plant some more fruit trees!  After a summer of no fruit, due to late hard freezes last spring, and after taking a hard and realistic look at the fading health of the old trees, I couldn't face a future with no peaches or nectarines.  So now I'm filling in the gaps, extending the drip system, and getting ready to face some fabulous fruit in the future!  

Val d'Orcia

Nov 11, 2015

 A trip to Italy brought me to the beautiful Val d'Orcia in the hills of Tuscany, and more specifically to the gardens of Villa La Foce.  My tour focused on the house and grounds replete with terraces, fountains, and native landscapes, and also took in the surrounding farmland.  But one of the things that stayed with me most was the area's survival of the terrible battles fought during World War II.  The will to survive and maintain some semblance of order while providing care for others is surely mirrored in the solitude and majesty of the La Foce gardens.

A search for fall foliage color doesn't always have to be high in the trees.  This week we'll lower our sights and investigate a succulent plant that brings many of the colors of the rainbow during its three growing seasons of the year.  Sedum seems to have so many positives for growing in sometimes difficult zone 5 gardens, and it definitely thrives in a zone 6 habitat.  Low water demands and a preference for slightly alkaline soils make it a winner, even without the striking rusty red color that comes around in autumn.   

Bewitching Botannicals

Oct 28, 2015

 This week we'll look at some historical herbs that have reportedly been a part of witchcraft for centuries.  But many of the plants have both a good and bad side in history,  Modern medicine has adopted and adapted some of the plants from the dark side into treatments for various diseases, and today's gourmet table can feature food from plants once thought inedible.

This week we'll visit about companion planting, and more specifically about what's probably the most famous coupling of a threesome of vegetables.  Based on an ancient Native American technique called the Three Sisters, we'll explore the support system provided when you plant beans, corn, and squash together.  And we'll throw in a couple of extra 'sisters' for good measure.   

B-List Bees

Sep 30, 2015

The hum, whine and buzz of flying insects is something most gardeners learn to identify as a good thing in the garden.  With a couple of exceptions, most of those sounds signify a pollinator who will help provide more bounty from your garden.  Today we'll talk about the b-list bees that don't produce honey, but do help produce your squash, tomatoes, strawberries,and good things to eat.  We'll also look into ways to keep these essential assistants happy and healthy as they work for you.

My August Kitchen

Sep 23, 2015

    One thing that keeps me in the annual gardening go-round  is the idea of growing and creating good food for a good cause.  This week we'll visit about the incredible amount of work that goes into dealing with the harvests of August, and the friendship and camaraderie of canning that all that work creates.

    This year my husband and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversay, and the week of festivities brought to mind a GHP story that I felt we needed to repeat.  So without further adieu, here's the scoop on what happened at the dinner table when a Yankee boy met and married a distant member of the sister sorority known as GRITS - Girls Raised In The South.

Flower Power

Sep 9, 2015

We'll finish out our special series on weeds with a look at plants that could sometimes be mistaken for regular residents of a flower bed or border.

Their blooms can be colorful, but for the most part they will ultimately try to take over your garden space.  They also sometimes grow to ungainly proportions, so best to stay with basic well-known blooms and keep these interlopers out of your flower beds.

Prickles and Stickles

Sep 2, 2015

Though a far cry from cactus, today's weed entries definitely bring up some thorny issues.  We'll examine this sticky situation by defining the difference between grass burs and goatheads. And then we'll take a look at thistles that have come from other countries to make their home in the heartland.

Evil Edibles

Aug 29, 2015

Let's set the table and see what's on the menu, weedwise.  Today we'll discuss weeds that can function as spring tonics, or green and leafy vitamin pills.  And some of the things I commonly toss on the compost heap could become the makings of a soup or salad course.      

Grasses as Grinches

Aug 19, 2015

Broadleaf weeds are sometimes a walk in the park compared to controlling unwanted grasses.  Our six-part series on weeds moves from flowerbeds to lawns as we look at some of the better known bad boys that can take over a front or back yard in a single season if given half a chance.  We'll also discuss the dangers of some grassy grinches that can cause real trouble for man's best friend.     

Creepy Crawlies

Aug 12, 2015

A look at perennial and annual weeds that vine, twine, and torment gardeners throughout the HPPR region.  These creepy crawlers require almost daily purging, whether by hand weeding or a healthy spritzing of weed killer.  And still they often return, like the cast of a bad horror flick!

Last week we visited about a weed called nutsedge that was relatively new to me until I put in a garden fountain and thus created an ideal world for this water loving bad boy.  Today, we'll begin to revisit a series of stories about weeds- those pesky, prankish guests who come to the garden party without an invitation and can wind up taking over the entire  homestead.   Though originally aired 4 years ago, I think you'll find most of those bad boys of the garden world are still around and still causing headaches for gardeners. 

Nutsedge Nightmares

Jul 29, 2015

There's a new weed at my place that has been making an appearance the last couple of years and shows no sign of leaving.  It's a true bad boy of the garden, and it's called nutsedge, though some plant people commonly call it nutgrass.  But be warned, it's not a grass but a true sedge which can replicate itself by segments, roots, seeds, or nut-shaped underground tubers.  This week we'll try to get a handle on how to handle it, but be forewarned that it's a tough nut to crack!