NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

January 1, 2014

Tim's Tips: Make time to clean and sharpen your garden tools

Tim's Tips
Tim Lamprey

---- — 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 them.

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 on the blades.

The blades on your lawn mower should be sharpened, too. Your owner’s 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 owner’s manual, it would be a good time of the year to get a dealer who services your riding mower to pick it up and do a tuneup. If you have a small push-type of mower, you generally have to bring it 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 eight 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 has 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 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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Tim Lamprey is the owner of Harbor Garden Center on Route 1 in Salisbury. His website is www.harborgardens.com. Do you have questions for Tim? Send them to ndn@newburyportnews.com, and he will answer them in upcoming columns.