Protecting and Preserving Garden Supplies
Cleaning gardening tools are the first step in storing away gardening tools during the offseason. Pots, harvested seeds, and other materials also need care and attention after the garden’s harvest is finished.
Garden Tool Maintenance
Shovels, rakes, and hoes need protection to prevent decay and weatherization. Wooden handles become cracked and split over time from the moisture — prevent some of this damage by sanding wooden handles to remove damage and smooth wood. A finishing protective coat will preserve the new surface, with a water-resistant chemical coat or a non-toxic paint finish.
For fiberglass handles, cracks and stress marks can be protected using sturdy tape wound around the potentially damaged spots. While this “quick fix” won’t protect tools with severe splits, it will prevent moisture and dirt from sifting inside the protective fiberglass coating.
Lightly sand away rust spots from blades and metal surfaces on garden and hand tools. Wipe away all traces of dirt, mud, clay, or fertilizer from the tool surface before storing, making sure the metal and wood are clean and dry.
Pots, Planters, and Seed Trays
Remove all soil, rocks, faded plants, and other debris from pots once the season is over. Any remaining soil and root debris in seed trays should also be emptied, with trays and pots carefully dried before storage.
Cracked plastic seed trays or damaged greenhouse pots may be disposed of all together at this point, since flimsy plastic pots and lightweight seed trays will deteriorate rapidly. Cracked or damaged clay pots can be broken up as drainage material for other pots, so store the pieces in a container until spring.
Seed Storage and Material Management
Dried seeds can be sorted into individual jars and clearly labeled for future use. Write the plant name and seed storage date on each bottle and keep in a warm, dry environment, along with any dried plants like miniature pumpkins or gourds. Outdated or moldy seeds should be cleared out of shelves or drawers to prevent confusion with next spring’s supply.
Loose garden materials should be collected, cleaned, and stored in a dry environment along with garden tools. Shake excess moisture from tarps and plant covers and wipe away traces of mold, pollen, or mildew; then fold the dry materials and store away from the elements. Pull up garden stakes, plant supports, and protective plant fences and set aside in a sheltered environment.
Organizing the garden and its supplies at the end of the season is the first step towards a new spring planting season. Invest time and effort in keeping garden tools and materials in the best possible working condition before the season’s labor begins.