Fall and winter seasons are a time to clean up your garden.

Cleaning up your ornamental and vegetable beds as well as your lawn is a critical part of fall and wintering gardening. Excess dead plant matter may attract pests and diseases next season. This is especially true if you’ve noticed any plant diseases in your garden over the growing season. Rake and pick up all garden debris and compost it. However, don’t compost any plants that have been attacked by diseases. Throw any diseased plant material away quickly. You don’t want that in your garden next year.

Tool Maintenance
Tool maintenance is another important part of fall gardening chores. Keeping your tools clean and properly stored during the winter will help to give them a long life and years of use. Some basic tips for keeping your garden tools clean include:

Spray them off with water before you store them to remove any dirt. If you can’t remove the dirt with water, try lightly scrubbing off the dirt with a wire brush or a pumice stone. Set your tools out to dry before you store them or use a shop towel. I spray shovels and trowels with a light coat of silicone spray to protect them even more.

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

Some people lubricate the wooden handles on their 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. You may apply a coat of linseed oil and let the oil soak in before you use the tools again This should be easy as you are putting them up for the winter.

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

Sharpen the edges of hoes, shovels, and trowels with a file, always move the file in the same direction (away from you) as you sharpen. Keep the angle 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 and leaf shredder. I recommend washing with soap and water. A wire brush will help you remove any dirt and debris that won’t come off with water. Remember to let your power tools dry thoroughly before storing them. Aside from cleaning them, run them until the gas tank is dry or at least add a gas stabilizer to the tank to keep the gas fresh until next season.

Another important winter task is to disconnect your garden hoses and empty them. Water expands as it freezes and can damage hoses if not emptied.

Performing these tasks now will help ensure you are ready to go early next season.

Until Next Time Keep Digging and Eat Well!

The Gastronomic Gardener