The tallest summer grasses take over, gentle rains are less frequent, thunder and lightning iconic for summer, triumphant sunshine with all creatures looking for coolness and shade. This is a busy planning time for gardeners shaking dust from clothing.  Mowers welcome the time when fields won't need to be so often. 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

The month of August is upon us (and perhaps the hail is gone as well!!) and now the thoughts of gardeners turn to preparing exhibits and presentations for Central States Fair which begins at the Pennington County Fair Grounds on Friday, August 14th at 1:00. The Master Gardeners offer two days of free presentations on a variety of topics at the end of the week.

Central States Fair 

Horticulture Building 

Speaker Series, August 2015

Thursday, August 20:

2:00 Growing and Using Unusual Vegetables: (Microgreens, Eggplant, Okra, Sweet Potatoes, Kohlrabi,Edamame, Bok Choy, Chard, Kale, Arugula, Leeks and others) Mel and Tammy Glover, Master Gardeners.


3:00 Wildflowers of the Black Hills:  Connie Hobbs, Master Gardener highlights and identifies wildflowers that may be seen from hiking trails in the Black Hills.

4:00 Compost: Brenda Pates, Master Gardener explains ingredients and procedures needed for making hot compost in your back yard.

5:00 Growing and Propagating Day Lilies: Suzanne Karl, Rapid City Garden Club, Daylily hybridizer will describe and demonstrate more varieties than the yellow and orange day lilies commonly found!

6:00 Day lily swap: Dig and divide your day lilies, place in a plastic bag, label with variety and/or color and

bring divisions to swap after of Suzanne’s presentation. There may be some left to give away even if you

don’t have some to bring, but people who bring divisions will have first choice. Swap limited to those attending the presentation. Any lilies left will be available on Friday for adoption.

Friday, August 21:

1:30 Ask a Master Gardener Bring your questions for Master Gardeners to answer. Place any samples (plant materials or insects) in a zipper top plastic bag or transparent plastic or glass jar with lid.

2:00 Vermi-composting: Cathie Draine, Master Gardener and Professional Garden Writer explains how to use

 red wiggler composting worms to produce premium compost from kitchen waste all seasons of the year.

 3:00 Building a Backyard Greenhouse: Brad Morgan, Master Gardener and Jerry Treinen explain the process

of designing and building your own greenhouse.

4:00 Recycling in the Garden/ Using Landfill compost and mulch: BethAnn Ferley will discuss and

demonstrate repurposing materials and using compost and mulch for gardening.

5:00 Growing African Violets: Betty Wagner will describe and demonstrate care and propagation of African

 Violets, a blooming house plant.

6:00-6:30 Ask a Master Gardener Bring your questions for Master Gardeners to answer. Place any samples

(plant materials or insects) in a zipper top plastic bag or a clear glass or plastic jar (with lid).

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

 Horse's legacy can be found in our garden.  On July 14 we had our horse, Buckwheat, humanely euthanized. He had outlived his teeth and his vision. We made the call and set the time. more


Sunshine is good news. Most of us can now put away our water safety vests, swim fins, goggles and other gear that until recently seemed more appropriate for gardening than a day at the lake.  more

Summer 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. 


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

August gardening tip.   See august gardening tips on green tab above.  One is that "Irrigation is the main activity that the gardener has to do frequently in August. The best way to water can vary greatly depending on the garden situation. Hanging baskets and full, healthy container plants can need a thorough watering every day, or occasionally more often." more



Shade and gardens.  My mind has been turned to the subject of fruit and shade trees in a garden. There are those who say that trees shade the garden too much, and interfere with the growth of the vegetables. There may be something in this: but when I go down the potato rows, the rays of the sun glancing upon my shining blade, the sweat pouring from my face, I should be grateful for shade. What is a garden for? The pleasure of man. I should take much more pleasure in a shady garden. Am I to be sacrificed, broiled, roasted, for the sake of the increased vigor of a few vegetables? The thing is perfectly absurd. 

      If I were rich, I think I would have my garden covered with an awning, so that it would be comfortable to work in it. It might roll up and be removable, as the great awning of the Roman Coliseum was,—not like the Boston one, which went off in a high wind. Another very good way to do, and probably not so expensive as the awning, would be to have four persons of foreign birth carry a sort of canopy over you as you hoed. And there might be a person at each end of the row with some cool and refreshing drink. Agriculture is still in a very barbarous stage. I hope to live yet to see the day when I can do my gardening, as tragedy is done, to slow and soothing music, and attended by some of the comforts I have named. These things come so forcibly into my mind sometimes as I work, that perhaps, when a wandering breeze lifts my straw hat, or a bird lights on a near currant-bush, and shakes out a full-throated summer song, I almost expect to find the cooling drink and the hospitable entertainment at the end of the row. But I never do. There is nothing to be done but to turn round, and hoe back to the other end.

from My Summer in a Garden