high plains gardening


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.   


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.


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.   

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. 

Sara Waite / Sterling Journal-Advocate

What effect will the recent artic cold snap have on our trees? 


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.     


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.   


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.


When planting season arrives this year, give yourself a belated valentine by adding dicentra spectabilis to your perennial bed.  The common name of 'bleeding heart' makes it a perfect love note, with the tiny pink or white hearts hanging from the stems, like a heart-shaped necklace.  Today our GHP story starts with an answer to the Shakespearean question, 'What's in a name?' as we look at the history of this valentine plant, and then we'll turn our attention to growing these beauties in a shady nook, something not easily found on our sunny High Plains.

Love in a Mist

Feb 5, 2014

We'll start out our valentine month with a look at an annual flower with an old-fashioned look and the great common name of Love-In-A-Mist.  I think the name fits nicely, as from a distance a mass planting of these blue, white, pink or purple flowers can look like they're floating above the ground.  The fern-like foliage adds to its buoyancy, and the whole image goes well in containers or hanging baskets.