Wednesday, September 23, 2020

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Lawn and garden tips

Floyd Braun

Greetings everyone and thanks for your continued following and support of the West River Eagle. This week I will cover some garden tips and mid-season/early season equipment tips.

Watering in the August heat

Best times to water are a half hour before sunrise and half hour before sunset. Before sunrise is best and unless the area being watered is shaded. Always avoid mid-day watering. Keep in mind that on hot days, water in your hose can easily reach near-boiling temperature and kill plants.

Plants are most active in growing during the first two hours of the day. If you ever have the opportunity to set up a high speed digital camera at one frame per second, you will be amazed at the activity you see in a row of plants prior to full maturity.

Watering and planting second crops: Keep your plants grouped by water needs. For example, plants like lettuce will need more water than beets.

Keeping the ground cool: Mulching with wood chips, straw or other cool mulches will help keep the soil 10 degrees cooler. Avoid high-nitrogen mulch such as grass cuttings. Cover any man-made soil coverings such as plastic since plastic intensify the heat.


Trees planted this year, and up to two years ago, will still need extra water. By the fourth year trees should be ok with just rain fall and annual snow melt. Fruit-bearing trees will require more water for up to an addition three years. Most of a tree’s water holding roots will be in the top 24 inches of soil. It is best to water from the drip line about half way under the canopy. The drip line is the vertical line of your tree’s furthest horizontal leaf all the way around in a circle. The same rules apply for shrubs.

A note on fruit trees: In drought conditions, fruit trees will often drop half or even three quarters of its fruit to ensure that some fruit will reach its full size and maintain moisture content. This decrease is not a sign of disease but a marker for you to remember that under the current year’s condition, you lost a certain amount of fruit and to supplement rainfall the following year if conditions do not change.

If you desire high yields year-over-year, moisture sensors are a must. These devices will tell you your soil’s moisture content on a daily basis via cell signal or Wi-Fi. Most sensors will give readings at four, six, 12 and 24-inch depths. There are grants and micro farm loans available for this equipment.

Mid-Season equipment service

Mowers: Now is a good time to sharpen and balance your blades. On riding mowers this is a must since a blade that is not balanced can wear out the bearings in your spindles.

Change your oil every 40 hours of use and clean your foam air filter with soapy water followed by a triple rinse in clean water. Do not add oil to any filter unless instructed by the manufacturer. Some engines made by Honda have an oil/air filter system with an oil reservoir. Replace your paper filters and gap your spark plugs.

Tractors and Bobcats:

Make sure your coolant levels are filled to the recommended full line.

Check your hydraulic system for any minor leaks.

Clean your cabin air filters as recommended by the manufacturer.

Check your tire wear and order fall tires now to avoid long shipping times or delays, which could be as long as three months due to Covid-19 factory shutdowns.

Keep all maintenance required up to avoid costly mobile mechanic fees.

Fall and Winter Equipment:

Now is a great time to research a new snow plow or blower attachment. Most noncommercial customers have not begun to call in orders and shops tend to have more time and deals available now. You could save as much as 15 percent on equipment by shopping early. Remember it’s winter right now in the southern hemisphere so these manufacturers make this equipment year-round and set quotas on their lines this time of year for individual markets, so your early purchase will be rewarded.

This is also a great time to get your winter machines serviced so you have no last minute or early season surprises.

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