The tallest summer grasses take over, gentle rains are less frequent, thunder and lightning iconic for summer, triumphant sunshine with all creatures looking for coolness and shade. This is a busy planning time for gardeners shaking dust from clothing.  Mowers welcome the time when fields won't need to be so often. Questions or comments are always welcome.  We'll try to get right back to you right away.
      Email us, Cathie Draine and Brad Morgan  gardeners@blackhillsgarden.com
During the horticulture presentations at Central States Fair, I listened to the comments and questions generated by Beth-Anne Ferley, Rapid City Recycling Educator, as she spoke about her experiences and recommendations about the use of the city yard waste compost. I realized there might be a small piece of understanding missing for many of us about the use of these fine products. (Spoiler alert: apply compost in the fall and give it all winter to become “alive”.)  more


Summer update: Some yards have been ravaged repeatedly by hail this summer, but our garden has been under assault by every kind of thistle known to grow in western South Dakota as well as a vigorous version of knotweed. Add to the gross insults of those two plants, this year the blister beetles absolutely destroyed what was a magnificent clematis tangutica that flowed in golden loveliness at the back of the garden.

I cut the devastated clematis back to the ground and am prepared to take issue with anyone (including myself) who dares to suggest that there is one tiny thing beneficial about blister beetles. I don’t care that they lay their eggs in the soil and that the young creep about to find grasshopper egg pods to feed on. Big deal. The blasted beetles gnaw the columbine, pasque and clematis to death. Next year, I'll kill the beetles with Sevin powder and negotiate with the grasshoppers.

If that has been discouraging, success this year for us has been our experience with the grafted tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and melons. Although they are more expensive than seed started plants, I do appreciate the disease resistant rootstock and the abundance of fruits. For small gardens, decks or other small areas, I recommend investigating the grafted plants for their vigor, disease resistance and dependable harvest.  more


 Horse's legacy can be found in our garden.  On July 14 we had our horse, Buckwheat, humanely euthanized. He had outlived his teeth and his vision. We made the call and set the time. more


Sunshine is good news. Most of us can now put away our water safety vests, swim fins, goggles and other gear that until recently seemed more appropriate for gardening than a day at the lake.  more

Summer gardening. If asked, many gardeners would describe the ‘seasons’ that define gardening in the Black Hills as: spring stimulation by catalog;  planting then replanting;  encountering insects and plant disease; pummeling by hail;  the miracle of harvest; and  fall stimulation by catalog , all creating a list of predictable events in the summer garden that most of us expect and respond to in varying ways with varying degrees of elegance. more



Great Gardening Truths.Let’s face it: we like our gardens to be pretty, and speaking for myself and probably others, I’m not thrilled to see a carefully grown ‘pretty’ hanging from the mouth of a deer, or gnawed to shreds by grasshoppers or twisted out of shape by aphids or thrips. I take that personally.

            Then, rethinking my behavior and restored by a cup of tea, I review what I know to be Great Gardening Truths. 


Archeologists and soils.  Archeologists have found garden records and structural remnants dating back to the time of the pharaohs. Cultures knew that soil had to be fed and they, almost literally, threw everything but the kitchen sink into the gardens. Excavations have revealed potshards, bones, shells and human and animal manures. There is a record of a lease of land in ancient Greece that required the lessee to buy 150 baskets of manure (presumably from the owner) each year for the orchards. more

August gardening tip.   See august gardening tips on green tab above.  One is that "Irrigation is the main activity that the gardener has to do frequently in August. The best way to water can vary greatly depending on the garden situation. Hanging baskets and full, healthy container plants can need a thorough watering every day, or occasionally more often." more



Shade and gardens.  My mind has been turned to the subject of fruit and shade trees in a garden. There are those who say that trees shade the garden too much, and interfere with the growth of the vegetables. There may be something in this: but when I go down the potato rows, the rays of the sun glancing upon my shining blade, the sweat pouring from my face, I should be grateful for shade. What is a garden for? The pleasure of man. I should take much more pleasure in a shady garden. Am I to be sacrificed, broiled, roasted, for the sake of the increased vigor of a few vegetables? The thing is perfectly absurd. 

      If I were rich, I think I would have my garden covered with an awning, so that it would be comfortable to work in it. It might roll up and be removable, as the great awning of the Roman Coliseum was,—not like the Boston one, which went off in a high wind. Another very good way to do, and probably not so expensive as the awning, would be to have four persons of foreign birth carry a sort of canopy over you as you hoed. And there might be a person at each end of the row with some cool and refreshing drink. Agriculture is still in a very barbarous stage. I hope to live yet to see the day when I can do my gardening, as tragedy is done, to slow and soothing music, and attended by some of the comforts I have named. These things come so forcibly into my mind sometimes as I work, that perhaps, when a wandering breeze lifts my straw hat, or a bird lights on a near currant-bush, and shakes out a full-throated summer song, I almost expect to find the cooling drink and the hospitable entertainment at the end of the row. But I never do. There is nothing to be done but to turn round, and hoe back to the other end.

from My Summer in a Garden