It's February!! Seed-starting! Longer days!! Catalogs arrive!!!

Bring on the dreams of spring, marked-down candy, frosty nighttime hours, apple cider,  bright red berries and leaves, and the falling and blowing snow. This is a busy time for man and beast. Dried foliage in the garden spurs reflection...with perhaps a wistful memory of 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 right back to you right away.  

Email us, Cathie Draine and Brad Morgan, at gardeners@blackhillsgarden.com

Surprises in winter garden.  Recently, on a day when I could restrain myself no longer, I wandered out into the garden to see what was up. Expecting nothing, I was delighted to see a handful of the tiny (about three inches) Galanthus nivalis, common snowdrops, blooming happily in the pine needles and snow.  more
 Ouch. (This information from Away to  Garden blog may have a solution for you.) From the start of winter into early spring, that’s my main complaint, and nonstop snow-shoveling and serious cold do nothing to speed relief. I whined to a friend the other day, and she listened for a moment, then stopped me with two words:wound strips.If you’ve had beat-up fingertips, you have probably gone through a lot of Band-Aids, but how practical are they, except overnight? They’re clumsy when typing, and when cooking, or washing hands—not good. If they get damp, the pad portion holds moisture, which doesn’t seem to promote healing, either; the little strips don’t do that. And ripping off a big old swath of adhesive from a split finger when the bandage is either wet or soiled, or you want to apply more balm? Ouch.

Instead, just put the tiniest dab of something emollient on the troubled spot—Bag Balm or Farmer’s Friend or A&D or whatever you like—then cover the crack up with a portion cut from one of the many quarter-inch-wide strips in each package. (The breathable adhesive strips are usually used in multiples, to secure small cuts and wounds, and even after suture or staple removal to improve cosmetic results. I used maybe one-third of one strip–of which there are 30 in a box–per fingertip, playing with the positioning depending which way the finger was cracked.) Don’t pull the crack closed forcefully with the strip, but rather start by lining up the skin edges, the directions say, then apply the strip to one side leading right up to the wound. Next, without any tension or pulling, apply the other half. With a crack under one nail, I positioned the strip as in the photo above. Remember: These little strips are adhesive, so use care when removing. 

Unexpected joys of winter.  I love this time of year because the mail brings us more plant catalogs than bills.  To avoid torture by plant catalogs, I ponder miscellaneous loose ends of garden thoughts.  more

Reviving Wilted Cut Roses

Nothing says Happy Valentine’s Day like a fresh bouquet of roses. And nothing is more disappointing than when the necks of those roses wilt and ruin the display.


Fortunately, there is an easy cure. Remove the roses from their vase. Recut the stems and submerge the whole rose – stem, leaves, flowers and all – in a sink or tub of warm water. Leave the roses submerged for 30 minutes.

Use that time to clean and refill the vase with fresh water and a bit of floral preservative. Recut the stems on a slant, underwater if possible and place the roses back in the vase. You will have perky fresh roses to enjoy for a week or more.


And preserve a few of your favorite roses. Gather a few stems together with a rubberband. Use a spring loaded clothespin to hang the bundles upside down in a warm dark place to dry. Or remove the petals, spread them on newspaper and allow them to dry. Add some essential oil or lavender to create potpourri or store your rose petals in a clear container to remind you of your Valentine bouquet.

(from the Melinda Myers blog)

Garden invasion of the voles.  Says Cathie, “we have been waging war on voles here. What a year for them!!! The damage is really amazing.”  Same story in the garden of Brad, who recommends putting mousetraps (since they look like mice) around a particular hole, with a 5-gallon bucket over the top so as not to snap squirrels and pets.  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


Seed catalogs.  Ask a gardener, “What do you look forward to in the winter?” and the answer probably is “The arrival of the seed catalogs!” While I do my share of superficial skimming through the stash of seed catalogs that are bathroom literature in our house, I reflect that I ended the year wanting very much to activate a year-end Digs thought: think globally and act locally.

                 I didn’t have to look far to find like-minded activists and passionate seed growers. An article in the December issue of Mother Earth News, “Sourcing Truly High-Quality Garden Seeds” by Margaret Roach (check her website at AWAYTOGARDEN.com) makes several important and easily summarized points. Seeds are alive, albeit in paper envelopes, and where they were grown and how they were fed (organic seed or fertilizer-infused) will affect their growth and ability to produce. Gardeners have every right to expect this information on seed packets. more

The Hill City Evergreen Garden Club is sponsoring free garden seminars January-April on the 4th Wednesday at 1:00 in the Super 8 Motel Conference room. Seminars are free and the public is invited.

Alert!! There is information about the 6 week gardening short course, Gardening in the Black Hills, as well as the annual spring gardening event, Spring Fever, on the Upcoming Events page (or click on the Welcome tab!) Plan NOW to attend.

And don't forget that March 7th is Spring Fever.  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


The planet is a global garden.  What’s happening in the atmosphere, in the oceans, across the land – whether called climate change or global warming or weird weather – affects us all.  more



Winter dreams and garden impermanence.  Our “weather memories” are often short term and inaccurate which allows all of us, including me, to redefine “autumn.” Beautiful foliage and bountiful harvests aside for the moment, I think of autumn primarily as a time of CHANGE.  more

Gardening Is Doorway to Mindfulness.  Fall is the time of gathering-in, of vegetables, of seeds, or of ideas. It was those latter that I gathered in during the recent annual state-wide Master Gardener Update in Yankton. more

February gardening tip.   See February gardening tips on green tab above.  One is to "Don't start your vegetable plants indoors too early. Six weeks ahead of the expected planting date is early enough for the fastgrowth species such as cabbage. Eight weeks allows enough time for the slowergrowing types such as peppers."  Don't forget that a journal will draw you deeply into the heart of your garden, especially if you incorporate drawing and watercolor.  Yes, anybody can do this, even with dried plants like zinnias still in their pots (waiting for seed collection). You learn by doing and get better with practice. more