Bring on gentle rains, cold daytime and nighttime hours, reading alone in the warm but unheated greenhouse, triumphant bursts of sunshine, robins and bluebirds joyous again in green grass and lush weeds. This is a busy planning time for gardeners scraping mud from boots. 

      New shoots in the garden spur reflection...with perhaps a wistful memory of season's long gone and a summer yet to come. And, as we can start seeds on warm window sills, we remember the pleasures of being in the autumn garden and the social and family pleasure that will bring us as we enter the season of sharing meals and gratitude.

Questions or comments are always welcome.  We'll try to get right back to you right away.  

Email us, Cathie Draine and Brad Morgan, at gardeners@blackhillsgarden.com

Killing voles in the garden.  What made me think that multiple containers of vole-killing compound would rid us of voles? Despite my praying for the help of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, it is our petulant cat, Hitam (hee-tom) that has saved the family gardens. Each morning, golden eyes glinting, she eases her sleek body through the pasture to the barn or sits stonily on the rock walls waiting…to kill voles. And for weeks she has brought us two to five garden-eating voles daily.  more

Northern Hills Master Gardeners are having their plant sale fundraiser Saturday June 6th and Saturday June 13th from 9 AM until noon at Brady Park at the corner of Meier and Grant Street in Spearfish.  Houseplants, perennials, and bedding plants will be offered for a donation.   Monies collected will go toward hosting the 2016 statewide Master Gardener convention.  Master Gardeners will also be available each week at the Farmer's Market on Saturday all summer at the same location and time to provide information on your gardening questions and concerns. Y'all come!   more

Nativars are cultivars of native species (e. g. purple Joe Pye weed).  So here we are in the full embrace of spring. 

Easter is past, daffodils, tulips and other bulbs are fully out and glorious. 

The soil is a bit cold to do any seed planting outdoors and I, at least, hope for two or three reasonably warm, wet spring snows or rain.


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. more

The Chickadee’s Guide to Gardening: In Your Garden.  Choose plants that help the environment  by Douglas W. Tallamy [New York Times, March 11, 2015  Oxford, Pa.] — I grew up thinking little of plants. I was interested in snakes and turtles, then insects and, eventually, birds. Now I like plants. But I still like the life they create even more.  more

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

Roman wisdom about gardens. I know that thanks to my library and my garden, I am served heaps of wonder, reverence, curiosity, delight, questions, understanding, good hard work, accomplishment and failure.  Armed with the library and the garden my head, hands and heart are full and Cicero was right – a gardener lacks for nothing. more.

Soil and Civilization. Something old is a careful reread of Soil and Civilization a comprehensive history of the treatment of soil by numerous civilizations published in 1952 by British author Edward Hyams. 

      New to me is Hyams’ categorizing man as a parasite on the soil – striking an iffy balance between the health of the soil and the crops produced; categorizing man as a disease organism of the soil – vigorous and now regarded as stupid misuse and destruction of the Oklahoma soils leading to the Dust Bowl; and, happily, man as a soil maker – cultures that understood the need for manuring the soil, rotating crops and allowing some fields to fallow.  more


Gardening Is Doorway to Mindfulness.  Fall is the time of gathering-in, of vegetables, of seeds, or of ideas. It was those latter that I gathered in during the recent annual state-wide Master Gardener Update in Yankton. more

May gardening tip.   See May gardening tips on green tab above.  One is "To better evaluate your gardening successes, keep weather records along with garden records. The most important items to report are daily minimum and maximum temperatures, precipitation, cloud cover and frost occurrences." more