Deep within every gardener is, perhaps, a nostalgic yearning to create a personally satisfying world, a romantic retreat from the helter-skelter of the rest of life.  A gardening shed becomes happiness writ large.  To move toward this vision of the Good Life, daily learning is helpful.  The mouse-over sidebar from this page focuses on topics already requested by local gardeners.  In fact, the Black Hills Garden website is available and created by ALL gardeners in the greater Black Hills region. We know it is true that gardeners grow great gardens, but perhaps we don’t often think that the gardens in their wondrous variety also “grow” great gardeners.

Do mushrooms come mostly in just tan and white?  Answer


Are you considering ordering bare root roses this spring? Read the following from Jackson and Perkins, noted rose providers:

STEP 1: 

Upon arrival, open the box immediately, and soak the roots in lukewarm water for 12-24 hours. If you are unable to plant right away, they may be stored in their boxes for up to a week in a cool, dark place. Sprinkle the roots with water every few days.

STEP 2: 

If planting in your garden, dig a hole 18 inches deep and 24 wide. Loosen the soil at the bottoms and sides, build a mound in the center of the hole, and set the rose on top. 

If planting in a container, a 15-gallon pot is recommended, which will accommodate a hybrid tea, large floribundagrandiflora, or shrub rose. Smaller floribundas should do well in a 10-gallon, while 4- to 5-gallon pots are fine for most miniatures.

For vigorous growth, abundant blooms, and lush foliage, add Jackson and Perkins Dynamite™ Select Rose Fertilizer to the soil. 

STEP 3: 

If planting in the ground, fill the hole with 2/3 of the remaining soil. Water thoroughly, letting it soak in, then finish filling the hole. Tamp lightly to remove any air pockets, and water well. Mulch to help suppress weeds and retain moisture. Water 3-4 times a week until leaves begin to grow; weekly thereafter. 

If planting your rose in a container, cover the pot's drainage holes with small pebbles or a similar material in order to create a drainage system. Fill the pot halfway with soil, creating a mound, and set the plant on top. The bud union should be level with the top of the planter. Finish filling with soil and water thoroughly. Avoid placing a saucer under the pot as this can lead to root rot. 

There is a strategy for getting a bit of a jump of spring...or at least feeling like spring! Here are some suggestions from Horticulture Smart Gardening on finding microclimates in your yard. Once found, plant your earliest blooming spring bulbs there.

Here’s how to identify warm microclimates in your landscape:

    These “heat islands” can be on the south-facing side of your home, 

      at the foot of a stone wall or in nooks among large rocks.

    Look for areas that are well-drained (especially in winter).

    When you’ve found a promising location, mount a thermometer on a stake, 

      one to two feet tall. Record the temperature right before sunrise, which is 

      the coldest time of day.

•    Repeat in other areas of your yard. This way you’ll find the warmest 

      locations for planting.

- See more at: http://www.hortmag.com/weekly-tips/microclimate#sthash.yTRL6syR.dpuf


Midsummer weeds and events.  I feel that time slows in the garden the last week of July and the first of August. Few of the dearly desired vegetables and fruits are ripe yet.  Some late-arriving blister beetles have gnawed a few leaves but care for the garden seems manageable. That is until I take a serious look at the weeds. Yowza! What a year for weeds!  more

One of the most popular of the winter houseplants is a potted orchid. The most common, the lovely butterfly phalaeonopsis which comes with many and varied colors, is now frequently seen in grocery storess, big box stores as well as at the greenhouses. 

      In fact many persons regard it as a "bouquet" and feel that when it has bloomed out that it should be simply added to the compost pile. It is true that most of the readily available orchids are wonderfully easy to maintain and they will bloom reliably for their owners for years if one follows these easy care strategies.

Charley's Greenhouse, a gardening business based in Washington and known to many through their catalog, recently listed some accurate and easy care strategies for the common orchids.

  • POTS - When potting or repotting, use a clear or translucent orchid pot with extra ventilation on the sides and/or a raised bottom cone. 
    This allows for good drainage, extra aeration, and root photosynthesis.
    You can also monitor root growth better.
  • GROW MEDIUM - Use a quality orchid growing medium that provides quick drainage and excellent aeration. 
    The #1 killer of orchids is over watering caused from roots sitting in excess water.
  • LIGHT - Native to the tropics, most orchids are “light-hungry” and like 12-14 hours of indirect light daily, year around. 
    Display in east or west facing windows, or put under full-spectrum lights.
  • WATER - generally orchids should be watered no more than once a week.
    Let the growing medium dry out in between watering.
  • HUMIDITY - Most tropicals thrive in 60-80% humidity. (Average winter home humidity is 30%.!) 
    Place pots on a humidity tray, or a pebble-filled water tray and mist daily to increase humidity level.
  • FERTILIZER - Fertilize regularly only when you see active growth — usually not during winter months. Use a quality, liquid orchid food designed for your type of orchid and follow directions.
Here are some additional suggestions based on successful orchid 'houseplant' culture in our area. First, save the tag that identifies the variety of orchid. You will need that information when it is time to repot. Some orchids prefer the wood chip pot medium and some prefer one more comprised of mossess. (One can easily find good potting mixes for orchids locally.)  Google for information about your plant. 
      Second, when a stalk has bloomed out, cut it off NOT at the base of the stalk but rather three or four 'knuckles or joints' up the stem. New flower-bearing branches will grow from one of the 'joints.' Third, give serious consideration to acquiring some of the translucent orchid pots. 
    If you cannot find some locally, it is worth it to order them from Charley's or another orchid source. It is VERY important the the roots have the opportunity to phgotosynthesize. Ours do very well under lights in the winter until we bring them out to enjoy the blooms. In the summer, the orchids do well in a semi-shade and protected area (a porch, a gardening shed). Remembering that they grow in trees, protect them from direct sun which will scald and disfigure or kill the leaves.

Cultivate a little chaos. Harvest a lot of joy.  While it is impossible to replicate the lush beauty of the traditional English border bed, I have learned that a garden full of plants that are almost self-managed in humus-rich soil is a rainbow of color, a banquet for beneficial insects, and a celebration for butterflies, birds and bees.  more under Digs tab - Spring.

Gardeners grow along with their gardens.  It is good to have an answer when asked, "How has gardening changed for us in the last decade?"  If gardens have changed, gardeners have changed, and if that has happened, it is because learning (and its partner, change) have occurred. more  under Digs tab Winter.

Perennial plants offer year-round ground cover.  I admit there is the appearance of a certain happy chaos in a perennial garden with living mulch or ground cover. I would offer that there is also vigorous health in both the soil and the various plants. Each plant brings nutritional potential to the soil, and, in growing, removes specific nutrients. It is different for each plant. Hence the soil dynamic is active and vigorous. Additionally having ground cover, especially that which blooms, brings beneficial insects to the garden that pollinate plants, feed on each other and are food for birds. Look under the Digs tab - Summer for more 

 "Talk to your plants," says Cathie Draine.  I read recently that H.R.H. Prince Charles of Great Britain has taken some heat because he not only talks to his plants, he states that plants need dialogue with the gardener. I agree. I claim my place in princely company and admit that every spring I recite to our garden portions of “A Psalm of Life”, written in 1835 by the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  I am convinced that it is the best spring tonic for the garden as well as the gardener.  more

Tulips are hardy, but smaller ones do better here.  Sing the praises of the magnificent species tulips, those shorter, earlier, more wildly colored children of Central Asia that for centuries have
colored the high mountain meadows of the Tien Shan and Pamir Alati. more. 
 No work, no cost composting...
   Compost is the polite word for rotted organic material...Tire composters started in the spring can usually be harvested in the fall. Those started in the fall can be harvested in the spring. The process is simplicity itself...read more

The plant we love to hate...the weed  Most gardeners have a predictable dialogue with unwanted or unknown plants, usually lumped together and described by most gardeners' most commonly used four-letter word...the WEED...read more

Every plant needs a friend...beneficial plants
   If you have planted a rose or other plant recently and want to try and introduce the mycorrhizal fungi, the best way to do it is by planting a second plant along with some mycorrhizal innoculant powder (follow directions on package). As long as the two are (planted) fairly closely, the fungi will quickly spread from one root system to the other...read more

Understanding Seed Catalogs. Depending on how we respond to garden catalogs, they are either seductive eye candy, an invitation to bankruptcy by over-spending, a strategy for combinging good outdoor exercise with thrift and good food for the family or taking a philosophical position in the on-going discussion about genetically modified foods and hybrid vs heirloom or open pollinated plants...read more

Spring in the Black Hills.  It would seem that spring in the Black Hills is more a moment than a season.  Those blue skies, soft air, emerald meadows, bird song and fragrance are so fleetingly exceptional that vernal praise begins every conversation.

    My childhood excitement encountering our native pasque in open pine forests or shooting stars in bloom on rocky slopes is recaptured in our garden where those same plants, obtained from commercial sources, grow, bloom and spread. Not in carpets, to be sure, but rather in small clumps that demand rather than invite my attention.  Read more . . .

Simple tools make gardening fun.  One of the most exciting aspects of spring is that many events seem to occur at the same time. Distraction is on every front.  During the brief blue-sky, sunshine moments, I lounge, lizard-like, on the deck, drink my tea and feel saturated by sunshine.  But that same sunshine propels me to the garden with my newest toy to see what’s up. I had read about a very pricey “garden peeper” – a mirror on a long handle that allows the gardener to gaze into the throats of nodding flowers.  Read more . . .


Many roots are mystery until spring.  On these longer and sporadically warmer days, I prowl the gardens searching for the “little green noses” of emerging plants, squeaking and cooing with delight at my first sightings of spring growth. 
     You would think after all these years that I could do better.  But no: Wonder has turned wistful as I prowl to exult in the shoots I can see and the vital roots whose activity I must simply take on faith.
Read more . . .

  Mix up your garden this spring.  Start seeds now.  “This time of year, many of us spell “spring” with four letters: s-e-e-d.  We think about seed starting as we drool our way through catalogs or actually set up the banks of lights and ready the seed trays in the basement or extra room,” says Cathie Draine. 
     “There is a lingering atavistic attitude that seems to suggest that one must have huge, carefully laid-out vegetable gardens or none at all. I’d like to suggest that there is a middle way, a strategy that is well within the successful reach of any gardener that is good for the garden soil, the beneficial insects, and the artistic and nutritional impact of the garden.” 
Read more . . .

Cooler air turns our thoughts to houseplants.

I love this season when grocery stores and greenhouses become our gardens. Which reminds me of the basic houseplant rules: East or south winter light works for most plants. Most of the common houseplants like to fit their pots or even be a bit pot-bound, and if they are repotted, like a pot barely bigger (think of

 shoe sizes). By all means, use the commercially prepared potting soils. more 







6 Delicious Edibles You Can Grow Indoors All Winter


Most homes are heated to a comfortably warm temperature range of 65 to 75F during winter. This is ideal for growing many vegetables, so the winter cold is not as much of an issue here as low-light conditions. Your choice would be limited unless you provide sufficient grow lights to imitate the sunny outdoors.

    As a general rule, leafy vegetables can manage with much less light than root vegetables. Fruiting vegetables such as tomatoes and eggplants need more light to ensure a good yield.


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