Thursday, July 9, 2020

Eagle Butte
Partly cloudy
Partly cloudy

Gardening and tool care tips

Floyd Braun

Greetings everyone and thanks again for your continued support of  your local newspaper. For those who follow the paper from abroad, I thank you as well.  I hope all of you are well and enjoying your gardens. The Go Local, Grow Local initiative this year is developing so fast.

This week I will cover some crop tips as well as tool tips.

Garden tools and care

One question that comes up every year is “why does my wheelbarrow tire keep going flat?” Wheelbarrow tires are designed to carry a lot of weight and last a long time. To make your tires last, follow these simple tips:

Make sure your tire is properly inflated. If you put too much air in and carry a heavy load, sharp rocks can cause leaks. If they are underinflated, you can wear the sidewalls which can cause them to fail.

Make sure you get the right wheelbarrow for your jobs. A small wheelbarrow is meant to carry 50 pounds or less.

If you are hauling concrete block or mixing concrete, use a large model with a higher weight limit.

Garden carts have the same basic rules as above. Tires for garden carts can also be filled with a product called Never Flat which is a liquid-expanding foam for garden tires.

Shovels: Steel flat shovels are great for scooping gravel. These are not the same as the wide aluminum shovels meant for moving compost. To get the best use, make sure the leading edge remains even without bends or gouges. Small imperfections from normal wear can be filed down.

Round spades are for digging. There are heavy duty types and light duty types of spades. Heavy duty spades are for deep digging and heavy compact soils. Light duty spades are for digging in loose soil such as a filled bed. Spades should have an even leading edge but not sharp like a knife. A multipurpose file will work for your shovels care.

Steel tine leaf rakes are for taking piles and clearing road gutters. Plastic tine rakes are for picking up piles and removing suspended thatch and pine cones.

All manual tools will need handle maintenance- wash your tools after use and drip dry, make sure set screws are put in the case that come with the tool.

On a side note, always call before you dig. You will want to locate all water, sewer, storm water, fiber optic and propane tank lines. A single break can cost hundreds and thousands of thousands dollars, not to mention injury to yourself from energized utility lines of different types. Call 811 and they can guide you further. Also, if doing more than gardening work, a dig permit from the tribe as well as an on-site monitor may be required. The Cultural Preservation Office can guide you as to what is needed.

Annual garden plants

Tomatoes: By now your plants should be 12 to 18 inches high and ready for cages. In the next week, flower buds should form and bloom in clusters in the lower half of the plant. Prune branches that are touching the ground but not all the way back. Cut at leafing intersections with a vertical angled cut with scissors or bypass pruners.

Pepper Plants: Pepper plants should be blooming now, about 8 inches high. Peppers are semi woody so they grow slower. You can opt to use cages but they are not needed.

Melon: Melon plants should be sprouting anchor shoots and have their first sets of blooms.

Squashes: Squash plants should be well on their way to their first harvest. Zucchini should be ready for a first harvest in about 10 days, followed by yellow squash. Other varieties will need more time.

Lettuce: Most greens should be ready to harvest if your seed date is past 30 days. This will be your baby green harvest. Do not pull the plant out, instead, cut 1/3 of the greens off so they continue to grow. Head lettuce should be ready in about 16 days. If you see what looks like white butterflies beginning to show up, cover your head lettuce and cabbage with light netting or screen materials. These are moths and they lay eggs in head green crops. The larvae eat the plant and leave nasty poo pouches behind.

Radishes: Radishes will be ready to harvest when you can see the tops of the red or white bulb emerge from the soil between now and the first week of July.