Welcome.  Into high summer and vegetable maturity, watching the garden become all it can be, the joys of gentle rains and far-off rumbles of thunderstorms, hot days that we'll long for come winter, and family-awaited road trips.  Resting in some garden shade, we think long, long thoughts.  May each of us have wistful and lyrical moments outdoors.  

Questions or comments are always welcome.  We'll try to get back to you right away.  Email us, Cathie Draine and Brad Morgan at gardeners@blackhillsgarden.com

Chief among the anticipated tasks of approaching autumn is determining how to feed the garden soil and ready it for winter. It should be obvious that the soil in the family plot cannot produce healthy crops year after year without the health of the soil itself being grown by the careful, regular, abundant addition of organic materials.  more

I have been gathering larkspur, nigella, rose campion, cosmos and marigold seedsfor a project in a new garden area. A power line is buried (shallowly) across a five foot square corner of the garden that needs to be kept accessible for future possible access – a situation very like the “hell strips” between the street and the sidewalk in city neighborhoods.  more

It’s midsummer, emotionally if not numerically. Our garden, like many others has slowed down a bit from the heat. The colors of spring - the white, yellow, orange and occasional blue of the spring bulbs raised spirits as they peeked through the patches of snow and pine needles. more

In late June or early July each year, the garden seems to rest while I turn to the necessary tasks of dead-heading, mulching and watering.  This calm is an illusion however. The birds, bees and  butterflies put on a grand show.  more

Bats and Bees in the Garden. According to an on-line weather site the hottest June 11 on record in Rapid City was a mere 102 degrees in 1953. We registered an anti-social 108 degrees at our house that day at noon.  As the day ‘cooled’ I emerged from my cocoon of iced tea to see if there was life (left) in the garden.  more

Learning to live with summer weeds. Reading this book has taught me two things: many of our worst weeds were introduced purposefully (dandelion as a green vegetable) or accidently like wild chervil (cow parsley) included in wildflower seed mix. Far more impressive is the blatant determination of some of the worst weeds to conquer the world by massive seed production.

            For example, a common pigweed can produce up to 15,000 seeds. Purslane, a member of the Portulaca family and a pig weed look-alike, can not only produce up to 242, 500 seeds per plant, it has a tap root 3 or more inches long, can root from the stem nodes and carries enough nutritional reserve to ripen the seeds in an uprooted plant. more

Raised Beds.  Several years ago my good friend Tammy Glover had knee replacements. While acknowledging gratitude for after market body parts, she realized that working in the garden on her knees was no longer an option. She wanted a garden bed about the height of a kitchen counter. I am not certain that Tammy’s “bunkers” were the first raised beds in Rapid City but they are surely the best known. The plans for those are on blackhillsgarden.com as “30” high raised bed” under the Soil and Water tab.   more

Gardening with age.  I have mentioned that LeRoy and I are experiencing that grand adventure of “downsizing” by choice. He is 80 and I am 77. We have no need of a large home, outbuildings, a small barn, large garage and extensive gardens.  We do have a need for a smaller garden for me, a workshop for LeRoy and a slightly smaller home that will continue to welcome family and friends.

             As a gardener and a garden writer I talk with many persons about their gardens or the pleasures of gardening. What saddens me are those who sigh, “I had to give up the garden,” or “I really miss gardening”, or sadder yet,  “I guess I am too old to garden.”  more

It's time to talk about soils…because they are all different. Gardeners who start from seed look for bags of Seed Starting Mix (with NO added time-release fertilizers.) Germinating seeds do NOT need the fertilizer.  more

"Six amazing cooking tips." Unique garden-to-cooking tips using a jar.  watch video

Check the free garden classified page on this site.  The latest addition features Top Soil - 4 yards $50 or best offer. Located in Piedmont/Summerset. You load and haul. Easy access to dirt sitting in driveway. I bought too much. Call/text 605-415-3516.
     Is gardening still a puzzle at times?  If so, explore this newly recommended site on flowers and gardens and start to put your gardening life back together again. 

Summer and fall gardening activities ... Look for Upcoming Events under the Welcome tab. 

Become a student of the soil.   We should be familiar with tenets of soil physics — the dynamics of physical soil components — solid, liquids and gases. We might understand a bit of soil chemistry — the study of the chemical characteristics of soil affected by mineral composition, organic matter and environmental factors. But the study of soil ecology is recent.  more

The handplant tree order form from the Pennington County Soil Conservation District is now available online.  Most trees and shrubs now cost $2.  A Rapid City phone number will answer questions and sign you up for the printed "District News" newsletter.  more

August gardening tip.   See August on green tab above.  One tip is to "August always means high winds and soaring temperatures in the Black Hills. Consider building a simple lath house from scrap materials as a solution. Well-appointed gardens never are without them." more