Welcome. No fooling, cool spring days are here as we continue to enjoy green hues overtaking grasses in the Black Hills. Windy days are mixed with sunny cool periods, coffee alfresco, and the sudden emergence of hardy flower pioneers. Alert gardeners keep a wary eye out for ticks and early rattlesnakes. The industrious dip into canned and frozen vegetables from long-gone summers. Our lives are now preoccupied with seeds. We can occasionally smell the warm earth, and the planting renaissance that awaits.  

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

According to the National Weather Service on average there is a 90% chance of a killing freeze of 24 degrees on May 2 and if that is not discouraging, another killing freeze of 28 degrees on May 14.  more

Latest information on 2017 Master Gardener training to be held this summer...

Here is the Garden Planting Calendar for the Black Hills and Rapid City.  Plan your spring planting of vegetables by dates now with this free guide.

 Frost and cold tolerances of fruits and vegetables. Tips for helping with survival.  more

Happy fifth day of spring! Many of us are waiting for the stirring of the actinomycetes bacteria in the soil to release their sweet smell of spring. Others of us, myself included, perform the spring search and stoop.  more

Here’s a question for gardeners: “What is the NRCS and what does it do?” and the answer is not “Why should I care?”  The NRCS is the National Resources Conservation Service and is “…the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s principal agency for providing conservation technical assistance to private landowners, conservation districts, tribes and other organizations.”  more

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (English poet, 1809-1892) was probably correct when he observed in his painfully long “Locksley Hall” that “In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love…” But we gardeners are experiencing a pseudo spring; just warm enough to drive us mad as we search for signs of returning plant life in the garden.  more

This is a garden column I never believed I would write. Its topic is the helpfulness of computers for gardeners.  Many years ago – almost twenty, I started writing the Digs column.  I thought my computer might be a great help to me because of the statements, at that time, that computers were to be considered as research libraries.    more

Despite the one-day-foul and one-day-fair winter weather, gardeners are dreaming/planning for the spring garden. It is an exercise of anticipation, of hope and of experience. And the practices and purposes of all gardens are different. more

“Name-dropping” is conversational one-upmanship to impress about business associates or hint at great wealth or life experience. It’s also considered tactless and an exercise of bad manners.

            This is emphatically NOT the case when discussing the wonderful history of the “Scarlet” runner bean. Many years ago I noticed (and then forgot) its beautiful deep red sweet pea-like flowers. I also forgot its vigor and its attraction for bees, butterflies and birds as well as small children who love to play in a tipi covered in the vines.  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
April gardening tip.  See April on green tab above. One tip will soon become more important: "Do not restrict yourself to buying plants in bloom. Petunias that bloom in the pack are often rootbound or overgrown and, after planting, will actually be set back and cease to bloom for about a month. Plants without blossoms will actually bloom sooner and will grow better as well."  more


15 Slow-Growing Seeds Smart Gardeners Start In April 

Some seeds must be started indoors in most parts of the country — otherwise their fruit may not come to maturity before fall frosts:

1. Basil

2. Broccoli

3. Cauliflower

4. Celery

5. Eggplant

6. Kohlrabi

7. Mint

8. Oregano

9. Peppers

10. Tomatoes

11. Cabbage

12. Cucumbers

13. Melons

14. Parsley

15. Squash (summer and winter, including zucchini)


more such survival gardening from Off the Grid News