It is at this time of the year, when gardening season in Wisconsin comes to a screeching halt, that I have a chance to finally clean and organize my garden shop.
My “half” of the shed is sometimes hard to get to as my husband has his four-wheeler, riding lawn mower, air compressor and various and sundry tools scattered in it as well. Because of this, I’m a great believer in peg board and hooks. There is one workbench and also a 6′ X 12′ overhead shelf that extends from the back of the shed. I have all of my garden stakes and tomato towers stored in this overhead compartment. Plastic seed starter pots are stacked upside down below the workbench. Terra cotta planters that have survived the season are also stored upside down in the same area. Each year when I buy new ones, I coat them with a clear spray to help slow down their deterioration.
Each of my hand tools is given a bath in oil and sand. I fill a 5-gallon bucket with builder’s sand, coat the metal part of my spades, forks and bulb planters with oil and sink them all in the sand for 2-3 days. After that I pull them out and clean off any excess rust. I re-coat them with more oil and hang them on the peg board for a winter rest. This really helps to eliminate the growth of more rust on the tools and extends their useful life span.
Window planters and other pots used on my decks are dumped of all nutrient depleted soil and dead plant material and soaked in a mixture of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. I do this to make sure that plant diseases don’t have a chance to winter over and affect the new plantings next spring.
Fertilizers and other soil enhancing materials in the shop are checked for freshness. When I buy these products I take a permanent marker and write the date of purchase on each one. I’ll usually keep these for about 2 years – after that amount of time, I believe they lose their potency and effectiveness.
Sprinklers, hoses and hose attachments are checked for leaks and allowed to thoroughly dry out before I hang them for the next 6 months or so. Water frozen in the hoses or sprinklers can cause real damage.
In the Spring I like to know that all my supplies and tools are ready to go so that when Mother Nature loosens up the soil I won’t have any reason not to get right back to playing in the dirt.