Welcome.  Bring on the pumpkins, the apple cider, the falling and blowing leaves. This is a busy time for man and beast. Final harvest in the garden is exciting...with, perhaps a wistful memory of our lost summer. And, as we can or freeze our harvest or dry herbs and flowers, we remember the pleasures of being in the summer 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 back to you right away.  Email us, Cathie Draine and Brad Morgan at gardeners@blackhillsgarden.com

Some time ago I wrote that one of the consequences of down-sizing to a smaller home was my opportunity to construct a Keep-on-Gardening-Even-Though- I’m–Almost-80 garden.  I have surrendered a bit of (non-political) stamina, am more aware of where I walk and have relinquished the use of the wheelbarrow. But, I remind myself, that sort of physical stuff would happen whether I gardened or not.  more

There are advantages to taking a long and careful view of how gardening has evolved.  I’ve described how gardening has gone from ‘eye candy’ floral displays and “plant in groups of threes” to a realization that now gardeners are encouraged or expected to be capable amateur soil scientists, chemists and persons knowledgeable about sustainability, wise water use and more.  more 
[Cathie now lives and gardens on the southwestern edge of Rapid City in Whispering Pines.]

After a couple of nights of killing frost, gardeners get in high gear to deal with bags of leaves and garden refuse and do the typical tasks that constitute getting the garden ready for winter. Over the years I have noticed that almost all of what happens – building compost piles, using tillers, pulling dead plants, ‘cleaning’ the garden into a condition of nakedness – makes the gardener feel as though all responsibilities have been met.  more

One of the joys of journalism is the discovery of what let’s call ‘the other story’ in an article. This other story should encourage curiosity and/or connect the information to previous knowledge.  more

Gertrude Stein, 20thcentury American literary figure, art collector and member of the “Lost Generation” of artists in Paris, France is probably best known for her ridiculous statement, “A rose is a rose is a rose.”Artist or not, she’s wrong. At the horticultural exhibits at the Central State Fair this week I learned just how different roses can be. more

Chief among the anticipated tasks of approaching autumn is determining how to feed the garden soil and ready it for winter. It should be obvious that the soil in the family plot cannot produce healthy crops year after year without the health of the soil itself being grown by the careful, regular, abundant addition of organic materials.  more

I have been gathering larkspur, nigella, rose campion, cosmos and marigold seeds for a project in a new garden area. A power line is buried (shallowly) across a five foot square corner of the garden that needs to be kept accessible for future possible access – a situation very like the “hell strips” between the street and the sidewalk in city neighborhoods.  more

Learning to live with summer weeds. Reading this book has taught me two things: many of our worst weeds were introduced purposefully (dandelion as a green vegetable) or accidently like wild chervil (cow parsley) included in wildflower seed mix. Far more impressive is the blatant determination of some of the worst weeds to conquer the world by massive seed production.

            For example, a common pigweed can produce up to 15,000 seeds. Purslane, a member of the Portulaca family and a pig weed look-alike, can not only produce up to 242, 500 seeds per plant, it has a tap root 3 or more inches long, can root from the stem nodes and carries enough nutritional reserve to ripen the seeds in an uprooted plant. more

Raised Beds.  Several years ago my good friend Tammy Glover had knee replacements. While acknowledging gratitude for after market body parts, she realized that working in the garden on her knees was no longer an option. She wanted a garden bed about the height of a kitchen counter. I am not certain that Tammy’s “bunkers” were the first raised beds in Rapid City but they are surely the best known. The plans for those are on blackhillsgarden.com as “30” high raised bed” under the Soil and Water tab.   more

Fall gardening activities ... Look for Upcoming Events under the Welcome tab. 

Become a student of the soil.   We should be familiar with tenets of soil physics — the dynamics of physical soil components — solid, liquids and gases. We might understand a bit of soil chemistry — the study of the chemical characteristics of soil affected by mineral composition, organic matter and environmental factors. But the study of soil ecology is recent.  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

October gardening tip.  See October on green tab above. One tip will soon become more important: "After several hard frosts add mulch to your perennial flower garden. A one inch layer of straw or chopped leaves will help conserve soil moisture and protect the root system." more