House & Home

Time to Store It All Away – Properly!

This next week will be the end of the gardening season for my business except for the odd winter task. It is now that I have time to winterize my garden and put away all of the tools.

Winterizing my garden is pretty easy. I like to look at the remains of summer plants during the winter and they provide food and coverage for the birds. So I will cut them down in the spring. I blow the leaves into the beds so they will be mulched and with a few additions in the spring, they will be fertilized. My clients like their beds cut and clean so we use a different system for them.

But, oh, the truck emptying! All of the tools and equipment accumulation from the year is removed, sorted, stored and the truck is cleaned. This is not my favorite task but I get a clean truck for three months, the tools are examined and fixed and next spring we start fresh. We use only a few tools but we use them a lot so it is important that they are in good shape.

We use Felco pruners. Replacement parts are available at garden centers. Knives, scissors and loppers need attention also. A light application of WD 40 will keep them for the winter. We sharpen them as needed so they get stored sharp. We use
stainless steel spades but the soil is removed and they benefit from oil, as do residual shovels, hard rakes, hoes, and any other non-stainless bladed tool. My
neighbor recommends the “bucket of sand with fresh motor oil” method of cleaning, polishing and oiling bladed tools. We sharpen these tools throughout the season but this is also a good time to sharpen them, if needed. These will need to be stored, after they’re oiled, as sharpening exposes raw metal. Leaf rakes need only be hung on pegs. This is the time to repair broken handles. All tools should be hung and/or stored in a dry place as dampness can rust them.

All gas–powered equipment should be stored with no gas in them. This is a good time to have them serviced and have their blades sharpened, as the service places will be very busy in the spring when you need the equipment. These tools need to be stored in a dry place also to avoid rust on the blades.

If you sort all of the small tools and assorted necessaries like twine, cable ties, flags, bamboo stakes and the things under the seats, scattered on the work benches and tossed into the shed, they will be organized for the spring or, if you are like me, you will not be able to find them in the spring after all of this organization. Nevertheless, it helps with the truck, shop and storage area cleaning.

Other things to be done at this time:

Any fertilizers, sprays and powders need to be inside in a dry, safe–from–children place.

Check your pots. Terra cotta pots should be emptied and stored in a dry place or, if left outside, turned upside down but raised off the ground. It is recommended that they be washed out with a light bleach solution if they are to be used again. (I have never done this and have not had any problems.) All weather resistant, planted pots left outside should be raised off the ground with “feet”

Hoses should be drained and put away. Irrigation systems should be blown out.

Store wheelbarrows upside down but raised off the ground.

Ladders need to be stored in a safe place off of the ground.

Make sure that your outdoor spigots (and showers) are drained or frost proof.

All of the tender bulbs should be in storage by now, each in circumstances appropriate to the variety. (This information is available on the Internet)

Soil tests can be taken. Kits for this are at Lynch’s in Southampton and the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Riverhead. You will get a report on the contents of your soil and recommendations of necessary additions.

If you do all of these things, you will be glad you did in the spring and you will get a gold star. (I never quite earn that star!)


Jeanelle Myers is a professional gardener and consultant, for gardening discussion you can call her at 631-434-5067.


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