With Spring coming on (we hope) the month of April can be a busy time. If we are not shoveling snow, we should be cleaning and sharpening tools, checking to see our seed needs...and counting the days until the soil warms and everything gets busy!! There are lots of questions and concerns. Send us an email and we will try to find answers and solutions. (Actually, it is great fun.) P.S. Remember to leave food and/or feed the birds!   Email us, Cathie Draine and Brad Morgan, at gardeners@blackhillsgarden.com

These sunny days (off and on, to be sure), really start us "thinking summer".  Click on Upcoming Events under the Welcome tab. And remember to check the site frequently for additional and updated information!

Good news! Bugs are finally getting good press. Or, to put it another way: insects are vital to worldwide food production. Bees, as we know, are acknowledged to be a keystone species whose reduction or removal from the habitat would be  devastating.  more

Rethinking the wild behavior of plants. Jessica Walliser is one of my favorite garden writers. Her books, Good Bug, Bad Bug and Grow Organic, were instrumental in educating me about the value of insects in the garden. Her latest book, "Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden," fascinated me by her excellent discussions of the various examples of needful insect/plant cooperation. These range from flower forms and nectars that accommodate specific pollinators to plants that produce poisonous sap, with a twist.  more

Vernal equinox…the first day of spring

I have already planted hyacinths that got overlooked last fall and yes, they will live and probably bloom. But as unusual as that might sound, the next six weeks are strange no matter the weather. We may be teased by warm days, the sounds of returning birds, the intoxicating odor of geosmin, released by soil organisms as they respond to warming soil and then, perhaps… shovel our way out of a spring blizzard.  more

Starting seeds indoors.  If you love tomatoes, mid-March to early April is the time to start your own plants from seed.  It's fun to watch the whole growing cycle and the seed starting process and watch baby seedlings grow into sturdy plants.  more

Buds, blossoms and bees....By the time the first buds open to blossoms, our native bees will arrive to pollinate the flowers. Learn more about this precious commodity, our native bees, at a presentation on April 23 by Dr. Paul Johnson, SDSU Entomologist. Read more information on the Upcoming Events page under the Welcome tab.

Voles in the Garden. “Well, that certainly adds insult to injury,” I thought as I read the opening sentence of an article entitled, “Voles in Love” in the February Smithsonian magazine. The offending sentence stated, “Burrowing balls of fluff, recently plucked from the American prairie, hold the secrets to our deepest bonds and affections.” Really? more

The Annual Almost-free Plant Share is coming on Saturday, May 17th!!  There are educational displays, refreshments, door prizes and yellow coupons on sale in the upstairs training/meeting room at the Materials Recovery Center. The Free table, an unlimited exchange of useable garden goods, is located on the east side of the MRC, just north of the main doors.  more info

Plan now for garden pollinators.  If your garden is small or you only garden on the deck, consider a large container (whiskey barrel) planted with agastache. It is a magnet for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Plant up a pot or several of parsley as food for butterfly larvae. If there are larvae, they will eat vigorously and the parsley plant will recover with enough for you as well. more

Plans are being finalized for the Rapid City Garden Walk, co-sponsored by the Rapid City Garden Club and the Pennington County Master Gardeners. It will be held on July 13 from 1-4 in the afternoon.  more

Bugs Rule! Early spring reading at its best.   There are trade-offs for the gardener when winter deprives us of time in the garden. I am referring, of course, to reading. To be specific, I am referring to Whitney Cranshaw and Richard Redak’s  new book, “Bugs Rule!” Cranshaw is a horticultural entomologist at Colorado State University and Redak is a Professor of Entomology at the University of California Riverside. Gardeners know Cranshaw and his first book, Garden Insects of North America, which should be in every gardener’s library.  more

South Dakota State University Extension will be offering three classes to the gardening public. One is focused on children's gardening programs, one on the increasingly popular high tunnels for production growers or those who want to 'push the season' and a class especially for Farmers Market vendors and managers. Get all the information for 2014 SDSU Extension sponsored events under the Welcome tab.

It is about time to drag out the florescent lights and open the seed starting mix...and get some of those seeds started indoors. John Scheepers seeds provides an excellent and informative guide and timetable for starting seeds indoors. Check out this ample information under the Plants tab. You may want to sign up for their excellent, free e-mails.

April gardening tip:  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

Thinking of spring...compost...getting the garden ready? There is a new page under the Plants tab on How Compost Delivers Nitrogen to the Soil. Click it. Read. Plan for success!

It's never too late to learn! Come to Hill City the fourth Wednesdays of January, February, March and April for FREE gardening seminars. The seminars are held the last Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. in the Conference Room at the Super 8 motel. (Third floor...there is an elevator). Speakers will be: In March - Toni Schmidt will be speaking about the 15 most known/loved/used herbs and in April - Dr. Paul

 Johnson, SDSU will be speaking about recognizing/attracting and caring for our native pollinators. Plan to come, bring a friend. All are welcome. And it is free.

Are you being seduced by the bags of soil, the racks of seeds and gardening tools and equipment that are displayed prominently in the stores? Before you spend, read the pros and cons of using weed barrier materials on your soil. It is under the SAVE$ tab.

Early spring is perfect time to learn about pruning tomatoes.  The thought of tomato pruning can be a little daunting and cause sweaty palms and a queasy tummy. However, have faith. It is as obvious as the hand before your face...It is beneficial to prune the tomatoes but be prepared against heat, hail and wind.  more


    I certainly think grafted vegetables have a place in home gardens. While they are much more expensive than seeds or even seedlings, the vigor, yield and opportunity for desirable heirloom variety scions on super-strong rootstock is appealing.

            I think grafted vegetables are a good choice for small gardens where plant rotation is not an option but a good harvest from a single plant could equal poor or indifferent harvests from several non-grafted plants.

            There are new gardening strategies to understand when working with grafted plants. Neither the graft nor branches of the plant should come into contact with the soil. Pruning strategies for generative (fruit) production are advised.  more

Just a peek at the 'business' of producing seeds commercially. Read this interesting 'history' of Park Seeds under the Plants tab.

Do you wonder how to recognize GMO produce in the fresh food section of the grocery store? Click on the Foods tab for information to give meaning to the ID numbers