Prepare your garden tools for winter and add years to their life.
As winter approaches, many of you are hard at work preparing your garden for cold weather. Hopefully, you’ve already planted that cover crop, applied a fresh layer of mulch and prepared your cold frames for fresh winter greens (read What To Do in Winter for tips on cold-season gardening). You know that a little winter prep can really pay off when spring arrives, but don’t forget that your garden tools need a little TLC as well. Here are some tips on how to keep them in great shape while they await the return of warm, sunny days.
- Remove all dried or caked-on dirt with a wire brush, rinse and dry thoroughly. (Soak especially dirty tools in water first.)
- Sharpen dull tools using a whetstone or file. Working at a 45-degree angle, start at the outer edge and move toward the center.
- Sand off any rust spots with fine sandpaper or steel wool, and coat the metal with vegetable oil.
- Wipe a light coating of linseed oil or paste wax on wooden handles to preserve them and prevent cracking or splitting.
- Store hand trowels and
Garden care doesn’t have to take up all your spare time. Perhaps the main reason some new gardeners fail is that they don’t pay attention to the garden often enough.
You need to know the how, why and when of taking care of your garden, but you also need to stroll through your garden every few days and just look around. That way you will notice if seedlings are parched or the hostas are getting eaten by slugs.
The key is to discover problems in time to do something about them – before they get out of control and turn into major chores that take over your weekend. Here are links to answers to many garden care questions.
Basics – climate, tools, shopping for plants
Beginner gardening: Helpful tips if you’re just starting out
Hardiness: Zone information, zone maps
Essential garden tools: What you need to have
Buying plants: Finding a good garden center with quality plants
Soil – the foundation
Soil basics: Dealing with sand and clay
Soil preparation: How to remove grass and weeds before planting
Soil in the shade garden: How to improve it
Sooner or later, plant disease will enter your garden. However, there are ways to reduce disease in your garden and in some cases, even prevent plant disease. Knowing how to tell if a plant is healthy, picking disease resistant plant varieties and being able to identify the primary types of plant disease are all ways to help control plant disease.
Plant diseases are either a fungus, bacteria, or viral. Symptoms like stunted growth, spotted leaves, wilting, and yellowing leaves are all indications of possible trouble. Not all diseases can be treated, and yet others are effectively controlled with organic or synthetic methods
Browse articles about garden diseases
There are multiple ways we can practice environmental stewardship and go green in our own little corner of the world. Eco-friendly ideas and suggestions come to the forefront every day. Many of those ideas can be applied to gardening. As we strive to offer smart resources for better gardening we will accumulate those ideas here.
We welcome your input as well. Please feel free to use the contact us form to share your eco-friendly practices. We will post as many as we can in
The short dark days and inclement weather can make the prospect of gardening in winter both unattractive and potentially unproductive. However, a little bit of winter planning can get your garden ready for a great year ahead.
Gather all the tools that you have used over the past few months and give them a good cleaning to remove all the dirt and rust. Use a mild detergent to disinfect pots and seed trays.
Check out fences, sheds, gates, and other structures for signs of weakness or rot and get them repaired before the snow and high winds arrive.
The lawn needs a bit of a breather over the winter months so “keep off the grass” is the best advice. Make an exception to get rid of large weeds, moss and leaves.
Give sheds and greenhouses a good scrub and organise all those garden tools you cleaned earlier. Spruce up tables and chairs as well.
The Vegetable Garden
Cover root vegetables such as parsnips and carrots with 15cm of leaves or straw and they can be harvested throughout the winter. If snow is forecast cover with an old piece of carpet!
Plants and Shrubs
Dead-head autumn-flowering plants and prune summer-flowering
Does it seem like your lawn is always overgrown, weeds are taking over and those shrubs are in constant need of pruning? It doesn’t have to be this way! There are little things you can do to ensure your garden always looks good, saving you from doing all the difficult, laborious work at once. Make a few little changes to your gardening habits and you’ll have more time to relax and enjoy your backyard.
1. Just a trim
Pruning your plants regularly will prevent them from growing out of control and save you having to do annual battle. Trimming often means you only have to nip off the tips of new growth, so you won’t need to get the rake out and deal with a mass of green waste. Instead, you can just let it land on the ground, where it will turn into mulch.
Tip: If you’re trimming large foliage plants, it’s best not to use shears because they tend to cut leaves in half. The remaining leaf stubs will then brown off, leaving your plant looking a little worse for wear. You’ll get better results if you use secateurs.
2. Let it flow
Cleaning your irrigation system at least twice a year will
With our increasingly hot summers it has become more and more important to keep an eye on the water that gets used in the garden. There are many ways to save water in the garden, which will both help the environment and save you money! Read our top 10 tips for saving water below:
1) Improve your soil
Improve soil by digging in lots of well-rotted manure or home-made compost every spring. The more organic matter it contains, the better it will retain moisture. If that sounds like hard work, simply spread a thick layer of compost across your borders in spring (while the ground is moist), and let the worms pull it into the soil for you.
Help out individual plants by creating a wide planting hole and lining it with perforated polythene. Mix the excavated soil with plenty of compost or well rotted manure before backfilling it. The polythene liner will prevent water from draining away so quickly, and help retain more moisture at the plants roots.
2) Work with nature
Don’t battle with planting moisture-loving plants on dry, stony soils. Instead, choose plants that enjoy dry conditions. Drought resistant plants often have specially adapted foliage that helps them to cope with water
Spring Lawn and Garden Survival Skills
It’s predicted to be a long, hot summer. Protect your lawn and garden from the intense heat and dry conditions, with these survival skills.
In a bid to help gardeners protect their lawn and garden from the ongoing effects of the warm, dry conditions predicted, the garden and lawn experts at Victa have developed a number of spring survival skills with horticulturalist Adam Woodhams.
Whether it’s adding nutrient-rich organic matter to soil or sharpening your lawnmower blade, these tried-and-tested gardening tips will ensure your precious plants thrive through spring and summer.
“This is a great time to reacquaint yourself with your lawn and garden and spruce up areas that have been neglected over the winter months,” Woodhams says.
6 ways to mow like a pro
1. Mow before the heat of the day
For the best cut, mow mid-to-late morning when the dew has evaporated. If you’re fortunate to have had some rain, wait at least a day before mowing to achieve a straight cut.
2. Don’t scalp your lawn
“Scalping” means mowing off one-third of the grasses height making your lawn less able to cope with hot, dry weather. Grass about three inches (8cm) tall usually looks
ROWING your own vegetables is both fun and rewarding. All you really need to get started is some decent soil and a few plants. But to be a really successful vegetable gardener — and to do it organically — you’ll need to understand what it takes to keep your plants healthy and vigorous. Here are the basics.
“Feed the soil” is like a mantra for organic gardeners, and with good reason. In conventional chemical agriculture, crop plants are indeed “fed” directly using synthetic fertilizers.
When taken to extremes, this kind of chemical force-feeding can gradually impoverish the soil. And turn it from a rich entity teeming with microorganisms insects and other life forms, into an inert growing medium that exists mainly to anchor the plants’ roots, and that provides little or no nutrition in its own right.
Although various fertilizers and mineral nutrients (agricultural lime, rock phosphate, greensand, etc.) should be added periodically to the organic garden, by far the most useful substance for building and maintaining a healthy, well-balanced soil is organic matter.You can add organic matter to your soil many different ways, such as compost, shredded leaves, animal manures or cover crops.
Organic matter improves the fertility, the structure and the tilth