Welcome.  Celestial forces steer us toward the spring equinox on Monday, March 20 (4:28 am MT), so continue to enjoy overwintering houseplants and evergreens in the Black Hills. Snow storms sometimes rule, with occasional sunny dry periods, hot apple cider, and the thoughtful collecting of seeds from last fall. This is a busy time for man and beast (one and the same for some :-). Final harvest is just a memory, while industrious gardeners dip into canned and frozen vegetables from long-gone summers.  We look forward to smelling the warm earth, with the social and family pleasures 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

Gardening classes taught by the Pennington County Master Gardeners are being planned now.

     Gardening in the Black Hills, a popular six-week series of clases is due to begin on Tuesday, February 28th. Classes are held each Tuesday evening at the SDSU Co-operative Extension office (in the basement of First Interstate Bank, across from Menards) from 6:30-9:00 for six weeks. 
Each evening there will be two classes, each on a different topic, plus a break with refreshments. The cost is $35.00 for the entire series. Please call 394-1722 for more information and to register. 

Instructors and Classes for Gardening in the Black Hills

Feb.28   Starting a New Garden from Scratch, Cathie Draine; Creating Garden Art, LeeAnne Feuillerat, Kathy Wacker, Mary Deibert.
March 7    Starting Seeds, Sheila Hillberry; Small fruit, Joe Hillberry.
March 14   Making Your Own Compost, Brenda Pates; Beautiful Dirt Without the Work, Beth-Ann Ferley.
March 21   Vegetables, Mel Glover; Guess Who's Coming to dinner, Lynn Reneè.
March 28   Herbs, Jean Grode; Roses, Tim Forester.
April 4       Propagation, Jody Krogman; Native Plants/Grasses, Louise Engelstad.
The increasingly popular Spring Fever event, sponsored by the Pennington County Master Gardeners will be held this year on Saturday, March 4, at the Ramkota in Rapid City. This day long event will feature presentations by gardening professionals in the morning, and after lunch Table Talks presented by various Master Gardeners. The cost for this is $35. Watch this space for more details as well as the registration blank which can be downloaded, printed and submitted. Click here for the Registration form

Here is the Garden Planting Calendar for the Black Hills and Rapid City.  Plan your spring planting of vegetables by dates now with this free guide.

Winter sowing. If you speak those words one could ask, “Who can plant in the snow?” or “Mending? Sewing? I need a blizzard to do that.”  more

This is a garden column I never believed I would write. Its topic is the helpfulness of computers for gardeners.  Many years ago – almost twenty, I started writing the Digs column.  I thought my computer might be a great help to me because of the statements, at that time, that computers were to be considered as research libraries.    more

Despite the one-day-foul and one-day-fair winter weather, gardeners are dreaming/planning for the spring garden. It is an exercise of anticipation, of hope and of experience. And the practices and purposes of all gardens are different. more

A good friend and fellow gardener gave me a weekly planner for Christmas with the following quotation: “Anyone who thinks gardening begins in the spring and ends in the fall is missing the best part of the whole year for gardening begins in January with the dream.”  more

“Name-dropping” is conversational one-upmanship to impress about business associates or hint at great wealth or life experience. It’s also considered tactless and an exercise of bad manners.

            This is emphatically NOT the case when discussing the wonderful history of the “Scarlet” runner bean. Many years ago I noticed (and then forgot) its beautiful deep red sweet pea-like flowers. I also forgot its vigor and its attraction for bees, butterflies and birds as well as small children who love to play in a tipi covered in the vines.  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

February gardening tip.  See February on green tab above. One tip will soon become more important: "Prune fruit trees and grapes in late February or early March after the worst of the winter cold is passed but before spring growth begins.more


Summer Food in Wintry February


16 Popular Foods You Didn’t Know You Could Freeze

1. Garlic – You can freeze whole garlic, garlic cloves or chopped fresh garlic. Frozen garlic does lose some of its texture, but the flavor remains intact.

2. Corn – You can freeze fresh-picked corn on the cob for up to one year. Pack it in freezer bags — husk and silk and all. For store-bought corn, husk and blanch it before freezing.

3. Avocados – The bad news is that frozen avocados lose their consistency. The good news is that they do not lose their taste, so you can use them for guacamole or dressing. Wash and halve them before peeling. Freeze as halves, or puree them with lime or lemon juice and then store for up to eight months.

4. Mushrooms — You can freeze raw button, creminis and portabellas mushrooms for later use. Chop and slice mushrooms and then spread them on a cookie sheet. Freeze. Then transfer the pieces to bags or containers.

5. Onion – You can save chopping time – and tears – by freezing onion for cooking later. Store peeled, chopped onion in plastic freezer bags. The best part is you can just toss them into your recipes without thawing them first.

6. Hummus – Scoop your fresh hummus into plastic containers. Then drizzle a thin layer of olive oil on the top to keep it from drying out. Thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before mixing and serving.

more such winter gardening from Off the Grid News