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.

Gardening goes green

Oct 14, 2015

A review of some of the things the home gardener can do to be a part of the solutions to looming ecological dilemmas.  Some of the things we'll look at concern soil additives, use of aerial sprays, and the growing amount of plastic that has become a part of a gardener's world.

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.   

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.

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!  

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!

 A visit to San Francisco brought me to the historic estate and nationally recognized garden called Filoli, slightly south of the Bay Area.  The day-long visit included tours of the 46 room country house and the magnificent gardens, orchards, fountains, and pools that surround the structure.  Built by a wealthy family that survived the Earthquake of 1906, Filoli became a showplace during America's Gilded Age.  Fortunately the entire estate was deeded to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1975, and is host to visitors from around the world.

Sweet Annie

Jul 15, 2015

 A favorite herb has responded to our recent rains and taken up an expanded residence at my place.  I welcome it with open arms and nasal passages, as its aromatic aura clears my head and provides fresh potpourri all around the house.  It's also a good keeper in the dried stage, filling in dried floral arrangements with lacy backgrounds that last well into the winter months.  Though it has a somewhat colorful past in the wormwood family, its gentle fronds and somewhat spicy scent are best known by it's common name of Sweet Annie.  


Jun 12, 2015

This week we'll look at some new doings in food production, as science makes the scene in both the garden and the fruit orchard.  A brief history of efforts to produce grafted tomatoes and potatoes brings us from the early 70's to today's promise of a single plant with tomatoes on the top and spuds beneath.  But this is nothing new to folks who have been grafting fruit tree limbs to produce tangelos, plucots, plumcots, and more.     

Calendar Confusion

Jun 3, 2015

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.

The Gourd People

May 20, 2015
Skip Mancini

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!

Here's a link to Betty's website:  

Kitchen Gardens

May 13, 2015

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.  

Lilac Memories

May 10, 2015

Memory triggers include anything from childhood toys,  favorite tunes, or scents that punch the start button on videos of our past that cycle over and over in our heads.  Each spring when lilacs bloom, I get a full two weeks of scented prompts that start those mind movies rolling. 

Lilacs figure into my earliest recollections.  I haven’t checked with my mother, but I suspect their scent wafted into my very first home to imprint on my infant brain.  Every time I smell those lavender blooms, I think of sunshine and gentle breezes combined with motherly and grandmotherly love.

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.  

The month of March

Mar 20, 2015

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.  

Designer Spuds

Mar 11, 2015


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 long-lived garden

Jan 7, 2015

This was the year that keeps on giving when it comes to the garden, except for the beets that I replanted three times with no results.

I'm hoping to have a few last salads in the New Year with my remaining tomatoes.

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.

Karen Madorin

Instead of counting sheep to fall asleep, I count blessings until my eyelids slam shut.  On nights when slumber doesn’t come readily, my list grows more creative as I run out of obvious items to tally.  One item at the bottom of a long list of life boons is not just thankfulness for food to nourish my family, but for knowing the origins of my meals.

Today begins a look back at a series called Great Gardens, which originally aired in 2008.  Visits to eight High Plains gardeners located throughout the HPPR broadcast area resulted in interviews on a variety of topics.  From wildflowers to grapevines to landscaped lawns and cottage gardens, we'll begin a repeat of this series, and a call for eight more gardeners to join in a new interview series for the future.

Skip explores a part of the plant world that offered something sweet in ancient times.  Today it's most prevalent in boggy areas or landscaped water gardens, which makes it quite popular in lots of back yards on the High Plains.    


Aug 27, 2014

Today we'll learn about an ominous sounding chore that is a necessity for maintaining a perennial flower bed.  To some of our more mature listeners the title of today's show might recall Volkswagen vans packed with Greatful Dead fans touring the summer rock concert season.  But for the true garden buff, the term denotes a frequent summer chore of clipping spent blossoms in order to tidy up and control re-seeding.  It's a task that's never-ending but necessary.   

Skip Delivers Bountiful Garden Basket

Aug 13, 2014

Each spring Skip Mancini, host of Growing on the High Plains, stops by HPPR's studio to help-out during the station's on-air membership campaign. While at the studio, she also holds a drawing, in which she'll  take off across the High Plains to hand-deliver one lucky listener a giant basket full of her garden's summer harvest.

Flowers are on trial at the Kansas State University Agricultural Research Centers in Colby and Hays, Kansas. 

Kansas is a big state, with varied climate and growing conditions.  Western Kansas is unique with its hot days, lack of rain, and high elevation.  Those factors create conditions where flowers store more sugars in their petals.  That results in deeper, darker, richer, and more vibrant colors according to a recent blog post by Dr. Stevens for the Leavenworth Times.

One of the hottest trends in houseplants or patio pots is a widely mixed variety of succulents.  From tiny miniatures to super shrub sizes, these plants are fun to look at and to grow.  Akin to camels in that they can carry enough water to survive hot, dry locales, succulents can be a thorny cactus, a smooth and silky aloe or just about anything in between.

German engineering

Jul 23, 2014
Cindee Talley

Thank goodness for gadgets because how else would we ever get things done?  Things like cherry pitting for example must have driven Simple Simon's Pie Man to distraction.  But then he probably was never lucky enough to find a dandy little gadget called the

Kernomat der “schnelle” Doppelentkerner.  Ah, the joys of modern living live on in today's Growing on the High Plains.