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WELCOME

Tall grass expanses, gentle rains, thunder and lightning iconic for summer, triumphant bursts of sunshine with all creatures joyous again in a warm world. This is a busy planning time for gardeners scraping mud from boots...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

Early July 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

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

 

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. 

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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

 

July gardening tip.   See July gardening tips on green tab above.  One is to "Keep a close eye on the quality of your spring crops. Hot weather causes lettuce to bolt and become bitter. Plant a warm season crop as soon as the spring vegetables are harvested." more


 


News

Thoreau moved into his house on July 4, 1845: We are wont to forget that the sun looks on our cultivated fields and on the prairies and forests without distinction. They all reflect and absorb his rays alike, and the former make but a small part of the glorious picture which he beholds in his daily course. In his view the earth is all equally cultivated like a garden. Therefore we should receive the benefit of his light and heat with a corresponding trust and magnanimity. What though I value the seed of these beans, and harvest that in the fall of the year? This broad field which I have looked at so long looks not to me as the principal cultivator, but away from me to influences more genial to it, which water and make it green. These beans have results which are not harvested by me. Do they not grow for woodchucks partly? The ear of wheat (in Latin spica, obsoletely speca, from spe, hope) should not be the only hope of the husbandman; its kernel or grain (granum from gerendo, bearing) is not all that it bears. How, then, can our harvest fail? Shall I not rejoice also at the abundance of the weeds whose seeds are the granary of the birds? It matters little comparatively whether the fields fill the farmer's barns. The true husbandman will cease from anxiety, as the squirrels manifest no concern whether the woods will bear chestnuts this year or not, and finish his labor with every day, relinquishing all claim to the produce of his fields, and sacrificing in his mind not only his first but his last fruits also.

-- from Thoreau's bean field