2006-11-10 / Columnists

The Diary Of A Green Thumb

Storing your tools for the winter
Commentary by Danielle McShane Rockaway Florist

DANIELLE McSHANE If you like to get your hands dirty, there's a good chance that your tools are as well. Towards the end of November, we will begin restocking our shed. Tools may be packed away, and lawn mowers nestled into the corners. Before we retire every sign of warmth for the season, it is a good idea to clean and sharpen our tools. In addition to making your tools last longer, it will give you a chance to make a list of those you might need- just incase Santa asks!

Spades, rakes, hoes, trowels, pruners and shovels should be rinsed with clean water after every use, to prevent the spreading of diseases, insect eggs and weeds. Before storing them away for the winter, scrub your tools with a wire brush or a brillo pad to clean the build up of soil and rust that has accumulated. File away any rust with sand paper, and apply motor oil onto your tools to prevent further deterioration. The tools needed for basic sharpening are inexpensive, and the techniques are not complicated. For safety, goggles and gloves should be worn to protect your eyes and prevent metal chards from getting under your skin. Clamp the tool securely in a metal vise and sharpen with a mill file that has a bastard cut. File the entire blade, with strokes in the same direction. For safe storage, you may want to use a small piece of rubber piping to cover the sharp end of the blade. Make a straight slit across the top of the piping, and slide over the sharp edge of the shovel.

Don't forget safety! Pesticides and fertilizers must be stored in an airtight container with large, clear labels on them. Store away from sunlight and moisture, and try to keep away from extreme temperatures. Be sure to keep them out of children's reach.

Run the fuel from your lawnmower and use a damp cloth, or soft bristle brush to remove any excess debris. Finally, drain all of the water from your garden hose, and store it in a coiled position. This will prevent the water from freezing and expanding inside of the hose, causing ruptures in the material. Coiling the hose will prevent kinks from developing. Be sure to store in the tool shed on a hose hanger. Keeping it off the floor will help prevent rotting, and the air circulation will keep away mildew.

As you peek through your windows on those blustery days, sipping a warm cup of cocoa, remember that the hard work and many tasks of gardening will be back again soon. Enjoy the rest of the season indoors. Make extra time to relax with the family. You deserve this time to take care of yourself!

If you have tips that you would like to share with our readers, or if you have any questions about gardening, feel free to write me at Danielles RockawayFlorist@yahoo.com

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