Gardening is at the top of the list for a healthy hobby. Thirty minutes a day can improve your mood and stress levels. After being inside all winter, didn’t that first bright yellow daffodil bring a smile to your face?
Let’s see what else we can do while we wait patiently for more warm sunny days in the garden.
Now is a great time to check your garden tools. We should clean garden tools after each use to remove soil. A quick blast with the garden hose will remove most soil. To remove residual soil, fill a bucket with hot water and add about one-half teaspoon of dishwashing liquid to a gallon of water. Sometimes, they will need to soak for 15-20 minutes. Rinse well and dry.
If you used those clippers to remove a diseased plant, they should be cleaned before you continue to work around healthy plants in your yard and gardens. Keep a container filled with one part chlorine bleach and nine parts water to disinfect the tools. Giving them a quick dip in the solution for about ten minutes, rinsing well and drying should prevent the spread of bacteria or fungi. Flowerpots also will need to be cleaned and disinfected.
Check your shovels, hoes, and hand tools for signs of rust or pitting. Remove any rust with a stiff wire brush or steel wool. Apply a light coat of mineral oil or vegetable oil to aid in loosening the rust while you scrub. A simple way to keep small trowels and hand tools rust free and easy to find, is to take a large flowerpot and fill it with sand. Mix in a cup of vegetable oil and insert the metal ends of the tools into the oiled sand.
Many of our garden tools have wooden handles. The wood often becomes dry and split. Now is a good time to take a medium grit sandpaper and gently remove the rough spots and rub them down with LINSEED? oil.
Sometimes, plant sap or insect residue will leave a tool feeling sticky. Usually, a bit of turpentine or Goo Gone and an old cloth can be used wipe down the tool. Pay special attention to the hinged areas.
Gardeners use lots of snips, shears, and pruners in early spring. Do not forget to add a drop or two of machine oil or a squirt of WD-40 to the hinged parts to keep them working correctly.
Now your tools are ready. Grab your favorite seed catalogue or surf the internet and Mississippi State University Extension Service sites to find more information about gardening in the Golden Triangle.
Former elementary teacher and avid gardener Olivia Sansing lives in the New Hope community and shares timely tips on behalf of the Lowndes County Master Gardeners.