I have lost count of the garden sheds I looked through only to see half bottles of liquid feed all dried up, bags of powdered fertiliser now a solid lump. Rusty dirty tools piled up in the corner and horror of horrors, no room for the wheelbarrow – that gets left out in the rain to rust. Winter is the time to tackle the mess, especially on the days it’s too wet to garden.
Fertilisers absorb moisture especially when they are open; to avoid this, I decant all fertilisers in to plastic containers. Old Tupperware air tight are the best, op shops are full of them, write on the lid in black felt pen, what they are and last date of use. You can sometimes retrieve a solid lump of fertiliser, it requires a bit of bashing to break it up and get it to a powdered form again. At the very worst put small lumps in a watering can and let it dissolve, then water it in where it is needed.
Old chemicals are another product that gets half used; it pays to remember that once you open the bottle its efﬁcacy will reduce each year. You could be spraying a chemical with little or no effect. Then there are the labels, that have either fallen off or been half eaten away, try reading that to get the correct instruction– it could be dangerous. I always write on the bottle the date of purchase, so I can use it up within at the very least 2 years.
Check over your spraying safety gear, if you are using a mask, when were the ﬁlters changed.
To stop them becoming contaminated always keep ﬁlters and masks in a sealed container.
Give your tools a clean, scrape away the dried soil, lightly sand off any rust from the tool head, use a wire brush and then wipe them down with light machine oil. Treat your wooden handled tools with a light rub down with linseed oil it will help preserve the wood, easy on the hands as well.
Often only pruning tools are sharpened but in reality any tool that is required to cut needs to be sharpend this includes spades, hoes and lawn edger’s. Learn to sharpen your own tools, especially secateurs as they often need sharpening more than once during the year. A sharp tool is a more efﬁcient tool, it will cut down on the time it takes you do a job.
Clean your sprayer, remove the spray nozzle, wash under the tap this will remove any debris that gets caught there. Wash out the bowl with soapy water, ﬁll with water then run this through the spray lance, check and clean the ﬁlter.
Oil all moving parts especially on your cutting tools with CRC or light machine oil, check the springs for wear, replacement springs are available in most garden stores.
Always store your tools away, don’t leave them out in the rain to deteriorate, properly looked after gardening tools will last you for years.