60January 1, 2014

Happy New Year to all of you who are awake enough to read this column today!

Have you cleaned up your garden tools? The pruners that you used all season will have sap built up on the cutting surfaces of the blades. If you use a putty knife or the blade of a knife, you can scrape the sap off the blades. If the pruner is an anvil type, there is a little groove in the plate that the pruner edge cuts into. Use a flat blade screwdriver to dig out that sap. Once the pruners are clean, sharpen the pruners.

If you have loping shears, you need to remove the sap and sharpen them too. All of your cutting tools that have been cleaned and sharpened should have a light coating of oil put onto the blades.

The blades on your lawn mower should be sharpened too. Your owners’ manual will tell you how to remove and sharpen the blades. If this is too big of a job for you to do or you lost the owners manual, it would be a good time of the year to get a dealer who services your riding mower to pick up the mower and do a tune up. If you have a small push type of mower, you generally have to bring the mower into the shop.  The mower will then be ready for those first blades of grass in the spring.

If you have shovels, hoes or other tools with a cutting surface, those tools need to be sharpened too. Once sharpened, they can be coated with oil to prevent rusting of the metal surfaces.

Soon it will be time to start growing flowers and vegetables from seed. Keep in mind that you only need about 8 to 10 weeks from starting those seeds and putting the plants into the garden. If you start the seeds too early, you will wind up with a plant that is too tall and potentially having a weak stem.

If you were going to start seeds this winter, now would be a good time to clean up all the pots and trays that you have for starting those seeds. If the seed trays and pots were brought out into the garden, they were exposed to the soil in the garden. Garden soil can contaminate your trays and pots with a disease called damping off. Damping off will kill the young seedlings. To prevent this from happening, you should wash and disinfect those pots and trays. You should wash off all traces of dirt and then use a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water to rinse the pots and trays. This will kill and of the disease that causes damping off.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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