Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Eagle Butte

Garden Tips of the week

Hello everyone and thank you again for reading.

This week I will cover a bit on tomato care and care of your lawn and garden equipment.

As requested by a reader all the way from the Puyallup Tribe in Tacoma, WA, I will cover tomatoes first. Thank you Liz for following this segment. It’s a pleasure knowing people are getting out, growing food, and creating their own food security.

I will start with tomatoes and the 3 most popular types.

• Big Beef

• Roma

• Cherry or also known as          grape tomatoes

Big Beef:

These varieties are one of the easiest to grow, but it can be hard to get them to mature without issues. Now that your plants have been in the ground, they should be around 12 to 16 inches tall depending on when you planted and how big they were when you planted them. I am going to go with one size as planted, and those will be the 4 inch pot size as reference for today.

Your plants are far from being mature so do not panic if you do not have blooms yet. It is still time to focus on plant growth not fruit. Continue to feed your plants with a vegetable fertilizer with moderate nitrogen amounts every 14 to 21 days. You may notice some yellow leaves. This is not a big deal right now, as long as you continue to water 2 inches deep.

Over the next 2 weeks, you should see your plants begin to grow into their cages.

Now when you feed them again in about 30 days, you will change what you feed them with.

You will begin to use a low nitrogen fertilizer such as a 2-10-10. You will also apply 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt to the soil around each plant, and mix it well with the soil. This will help prevent flights and splitting of the fruit as it gets big.


Roma varieties can be hard to get to maturity. This variety of tomato does not like high heat such as the heat we will see later this week and later this summer. Romas do best, as all fruiting plants do, at between 65 and 75 degrees and prefer a lot of humidity. To help your plants cool down in our climate, you can run mist sprinklers on the hottest days as the sun goes down.

This will help cool down maturing fruit so they ripen faster, and by morning, about a half hour before sunrise and an hour after when the plants growth is most active, you can speed the ripening time. Do not over mist and allow lots of water to drop down. Too much water on the plant can invite fungus.

Feed them now with a vegetable fertilizer and work in 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt to the soil. In about 3 weeks, switch to a 2-10-10 good and continue to apply Epsom salt once monthly.

Your plants will peak in production in August and September as long as our night time temperatures stay above 55 degrees.

Cherry varieties:

These do very well here in our climate. For best results grow them the same way as the Romas.

Cherry varieties also do very well in 3/4 sun. The more you pick these tomatoes the more they produce, and they ripen faster so watch them closer.

Lawn and Garden Equipment

Gas lawn mower:

Your mower has a lot more technology in it than you think. It’s low emission carburetor will work better and last longer if you change your air filter monthly. Dirt is an engines worst enemy.

Check the tires if it’s a tractor to make sure they are aired up to the proper pressure. If a walk behind is your choice, make sure you have good tread on the tires. Low air tires or bald tires will cause you to cut your lawn less even and also too short.

Change your oil every 40 hours of use. These small engines operate very hot, and the oil gets dirty faster.

Sharpen your blade every two weeks. Your blade is designed the same way as an aircraft wing. It sucks the grass up to be cut, then cuts it and either throws it, bags it or recycles it depending on the type of mower you have. Maintain the same edge the blade came with when sharpening.

Line Trimmers:

Gas line trimmers are very lucky machines. Everything must be working just right or they will not run, or not run long. Make sure you mix your gas and two-cycle oil properly. If it’s too rich, it will not run and if too lean, it will burn up the piston.

Change your air filter regularly like a mower.

Lubricate the trimmer arm once a month with a standard auto multipurpose grease.

Don’t bang your trimmer head too hard if it does not feed; it is not loaded  correctly. Take your time winding the cord and follow the directions. Replace your head every year.


Shovels should have a sharpened edge to make digging and root cutting easier. This applies to round shovel spades. Flat shovels are for scooping and leveling. The edge should be smooth and free of dings.


A garden rake’s tines should be at least 3 inches long, if not it’s time for a new rake.

A leaf rakes should have long tines with a bend at the end. If you are missing more than 5 tines, it’s time for a new rake.

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