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gardening clean ups & storage

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no matter what size garden you are about to undertake.... cleaning your tools, pots & work area will keep them usable for years. here are a few hints about cleaning up & storing your gardening equipment!



Caring for your Tools

Good tools will last a lifetime & are worth every penny spent on them. Not only do they greatly enhance the joy of working in the garden, they also, over time, become like treasured friends; trustworthy & reliable.

Remembering to occasionally wipe them clean & keep the handles oiled takes just a few moments ... but will repay the little effort involved many times over.

slowly absorb the information....

Cleaning Terra-Cotta Pots

Terra-cotta pots need to be properly cared for so they'll do their job well the next year. Before storing, disinfect the pots to rid them of moss & soil residue that may carry diseases harmful to new plantings, especially to next years' vulnerable seedlings.

  • soak the pots in a sink, bucket, or bowl filled w/a solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water
  • scrub them inside & out w/a scouring pad or bristle brush (use a bottle-cleaning brush)
  • let pots dry completely before stacking & storing - this makes sure they are free of mold

Storing Pots

To ensure that smaller terra-cotta pots emerge from winter storage intact & ready for spring planting, take the time to put them away properly in fall.

  • thoroughly clean & dry the pots to prevent the growth of fungus & disease
  • lay them on their sides, one tucked inside another, in a shallow wooden crate
  • store the crate out of the freezing cold

never stack pots vertically because the changes in temperature & humidity will make them swell, causing them to stick together & practically guaranteeing breakage when you try to pull them apart


Cleaning, storing & reusing wooden container w/annuals


Clean and well-cared-for containers help maintain plant health. With baskets, window boxes, and seasonal containers, change the soil each year. Otherwise, it may become compacted and develop chemical residues or pathogens. Changing the soil every year is not practical for larger, heavier plantings such as trees and shrubs.


At the end of the flowering or fruiting season, add the spent plants and soil from your seasonal containers to the compost pile. Remove dust and dirt from the containers with a soft brush. Make sure no pieces of root remain, because they could carry disease or infection.


Submerge in water overnight any containers with stubborn stains or dirt. This will make cleaning easier and remove harmful salts. If the containers are wooden, make any necessary repairs before soaking. Remove and replace any rotting wood. After soaking, scrub containers with a mild detergent and rinse in clear water.


Any saucers, gravel, matting, self-watering devices, or other accessories should be thoroughly washed by flooding several times, then rinsed with clear water.


After cleaning, store containers in a protected place for the winter. Terra cotta is the material most vulnerable to cold damage. Concrete, heavy-duty plastic, and heavy fiberglass are the least vulnerable.


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gardening - the main page - use your "gardening button" in the navigational panel on the left hand side of the page
container gardening - what plants to grow & pots to use
container gardening - tools you need
container garderning - watering methods
container gardening - the real dirt about gardening
container gardening - continued care of your garden
gardening clean ups & storage - you are here!
the perfect greenhouse

Maintaining Shovels

Take 30 seconds a day to keep shovels, spades, trowels, & hoes clean & rust-free.

  • Fill a 5 gallon bucket w/sand & place it near the entrance of your tool shed
  • Mix in about 2/3 of a quart of motor oil/enough to dampen the sand, but not to soak it through
  • Whenever you return a tool to the shed, knock off the biggest chunks of soil, then plunge the tools head into the sand a few times
  • Brush off the sand & store the tool as you normally would.

Storing Seeds

To ensure that seeds wake up refreshed from their long winter naps, take the time to tuck them in properly.

So don't:

  • leave your leftover seeds & seed packets out in the garden shed
  • moisture, heat & fluctuating temperatures are a seeds worst enemy


  • place packets in an airtight container, such as a canning jar w/a new lid
  • make a few moisture-absorbing sachets to store w/them by wrapping 2 tablespoons of untreated cat litter (avoid colored or scented litters)
  • you can also use powdered milk in a double layer of tulle as sachets to catch any moisture
  • close the lid tightly
  • put the jar in a cool dark place

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