Winter Gardening and Tool Cleanup

Cleaning Up Your Planting Area

You can also do a lot of useful cleaning up in the garden during the fall and winter. For example, when your outdoor potted annual plants finally die off, you can recycle the potting soil. Just make sure that the plants are free of disease. Add the potting soil to your compost pile. Break up the root balls and the roots with pruners. After you’ve emptied your pots, make sure to clean them and store them properly. This is especially important for clay pots, which absorb moisture and may freeze and crack during the winter.

Cleaning up your ornamental and vegetables beds is a critical part of fall and wintering gardening. Excess debris may attract pests and diseases next season. This is especially true if you’ve noticed any evidence of plant diseases in your garden over the growing season. Many soil borne diseases can carry over until the next year. Pick up all garden debris and compost it. However, DO NOT COMPOST any plants that have been attacked by diseases! Throw diseased plant material away quickly so that diseases won’t spread.

Tool Maintenance

Tool maintenance is also an important part of fall and winter gardening chores. Keeping your tools clean and properly stored during the winter will help to give them a long life and years of use. Here are some basic tips for keeping your garden tools clean.

Before you store your tools, spray them off with water to remove potentially corrosive chemicals and dirt. If you can’t remove the dirt with water, try lightly scrubbing off the dirt with a wire brush. Set your tools out to dry before you store them.

In addition to cleaning your garden tools, you should oil any moving parts on tools such as pruners and garden loppers.

Also, lubricate the wooden handles on your shovels and other tools. Because wooden handles are constantly exposed to harsh weather conditions and use, the wood can wear and start to splinter. Clean the wooden handles with water and let them dry. Apply a coat of linseed oil and let the oil soak in before you use the tools again.

You should also sharpen any tools that have a blade. For example, garden shears and pruners will work much better when kept nice and sharp. A whetstone will work for pruners, lopper, shears, etc.

Sharpen the edges of hoes, shovels, and trowels with a file, always moving the file in the same direction (away for you) as you sharpen. Keep the bevel as even as possible. If you have questions about sharpening your tools, ask a professional how to do it.

Clean your power tools including your lawn mower, tiller, etc. Dirt and potentially corrosive substances can quickly corrode the metal parts of these garden tools. A wire brush will help you to remove any dirt and debris that won’t come off with water. We also recommend an occasional washing with soap and water. Remember to let your power tools dry thoroughly before storing them.

Another important winter task is to empty any excess water out of hoses and disconnect them. Water expands as it freezes and can burst pipes and hoses.

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