Welcome. Dreamy hot days in the Black Hills allow the mature garden to silently greet occasional nighttime thunder storms. The whine of chainsaws is mixed now with the purr of cutting engines tending to assertive tall weeds. Mowed meadows will stay short until next spring. Gardeners radiate a sense of tranquility, proof of more periods spent outdoors, escaping at times the artificial confines of air-conditioned life within walls.  

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

Just as Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the winter holidays for most of us, the Central States Fair marks the beginning of the wrap up of summer activities. And it doesn’t matter if you are humming “Bringing in the Sheaves” or “Hi ho!  more 

Central States Fair Horticulture Building 

Garden Talks

August 24-25, 2017

Each talk will be approximately 45-50 minutes with time for questions.   more


The summer has delivered brain-boiling heat followed by sanity restoring coolness with 48-degree mornings. But what we still feel is heat. That’s HEAT. We have had it in blistering amounts and one can find dire pronouncements that 2017 will be the hottest year on record. That is at least since planet Earth was a bubbling molten mass. more

Growing healthy soil for our new garden over the winter and spring for a functioning summer garden took trust in what I knew, faith in the process and a lot of interesting help…from earthworms, compost , fungi, woodchips and some hungry birds.  I admit in moments of irrational desperation I considered chemically killing the sod on the 40 x 50 foot proposed garden.  more

The South Dakota Department of Agriculture (SDDA) is encouraging residents to check any newly purchased nursery stock for Japanese beetle.  The adult Japanese beetle is under one-half of an inch long and has a shiny, metallic-green body with bronze-colored outer wings. more

Gardening in Spearfish also means a Farmers Market as well as small farms and produce outlets now using online technology to promote community awareness, including Lookout Gardens, Moonrise Mountain Ranch, and Good Earth Natural Foods.    more

An updated guide to "Growing Tomatoes in South Dakota" is now available for download.  "Few vegetables inspire us more than home-grown tomatoes, bursting with vine-ripe flavor. Tomatoes are easy to grow in containers or in the ground, and are excellent sources of vitamins A and C, as well as cancer-fighting lycopenes."

Think of this column as an instructive tale with three main characters: native soil, yard waste mulch and water and three crucial vocabulary words: hydrophobic, hydrophilic and infiltration.  more

Black Hills Guide to Landscaping with Deer Resistant Plants.  As gardeners, we all know what it’s like to feel protective of our plants. For that matter, we all share a desire for keeping animals out of the garden bed. In the Black Hills region of western South Dakota, there’s a handful of native wildlife to be found throughout the region, occasionally rummaging through the contents of your garden. Although coyotes, rabbits, mountain goats, and mountain lions all report regular sightings throughout the season, the biggest threat to your garden is mostly likely the whitetail and mule deer.  More

I had to check Wikipedia to get a solid description of the increasingly popular and loved garden broadfork. Local broadfork user, Piedmont gardener Brenda Pates lovingly calls her 28 pound, all metal 4-tined broadfork from Meadow Creature “the bomb.”  more
August gardening tips.  One tip reveals how lath houses are ideal for August in the Black Hills, since the lattice panels on all sides and roof cut way back on both 1) fierce winds and 2) high temperatures that can easily climb above 100 degrees Farenheit. "  more
The lath Botanical Building in San Diego's Balboa Park is nothing less than a shady tropical paradise, once inside, with giant jungle growth reaching skyward.  It is free to the public (Brad has visited countless times since early boyhood, most recently this spring).  


Drowning In Tomatoes? Try Something Different This Year.


If you’re a home gardener about to drowned in tomatoes rolling in off the vines and demanding to be consumed before they go bad, hang on. Here comes a life preserver.

I chop up a small bowlful of fresh very ripe tomatoes, add chopped red onion or scallions, minced garlic, chopped fresh basil, and extra-virgin olive oil.  I sometimes add Kalamata olives. I make this dish in the morning and let it set on the kitchen table all day. By evening meal time, the flavors have melded nicely, and I serve it over hot cooked spaghetti noodles and top it with fresh grated parmesan for an easy meal on a hot summer day.

other such survival gardening from Off the Grid News