What to do when the weather isn't cooperating? Well for me that means cleaning out the garage. Nothing worse than itching to get to work in the spring and not being able to find your tools, so I'm taking this time now to tidy up and prepare myself. After all you wouldn't want to find this when you opened up the garage in the spring.
To avoid that possibly unpleasant experience I took it upon myself recently to do some clean up. Some of the work was completed earlier on. I spent an afternoon in October washing out all my pots and stacking them neatly. They'll come in handy for next spring's perennial sale when the neighbourhood starts planting up donations. Then when the frosts began the hose was emptied of water and rolled up. I've killed a few hoses in my lifetime, as well as pipes, so I knew better than to tempt fate. In addition to moving the hose into the house the water tap was also turned off inside the house.
The garage obviously needed some tidying up to start with. Empty manure bags went into the garbage, empty and non smelly mulch bags were saved for further use. Seed propagation supplies were brought into the house for easy access as I will need them in early spring. Garden accessories, like my crows were brought in to keep from rusting and disintegrating.
The potting bench was given a general tidying up. Dirt was swept off, items were neatly piled. Some nails were pounded into the wall so that more tools, that have been accumulated over the season, could be hung up.
Most importantly though my tools were cleaned. I mean, of course I always clean my tools before I put them back! um, who put this dirty old shovel back in the garage without cleaning it!?
Okay, so there are times when I'm not terribly organized or clean and things get thrown in and forgotten about. This is the time to make up for it so I'm able to start fresh in the spring. I pulled out my tools for the job.
The first item is a stiff brush. This is actually meant to clean pots, which it is good for, but I also find it useful for scraping off hardened dirt from shovels. Some tough bits require something harder to knock the clay loose but generally the brush does the job. After a good brushing I give it a wipe with a cloth rag. For many tools that's enough but every once in awhile I find some rust under all that dirt. Putting away tools wet or with wet dirt clinging to them sometimes means they get a bit rusty. To help clean them up I use my rust erasers. Purchased at Lee Valley (yup, here we go again. We should play a game of 'spot the Lee Valley tool') these small blocks have a rubbery texture but act like sandpaper. They easily scrape away at spots on your tools and help with the job of clean up.
That shovel looks much better now. (I realize the shovel is still pretty rusty but this an old second hand shovel and I'm not willing to scour the entire thing) This was a handy exercise because many of my tools this year were inherited with the house purchase. Cleaning them up made me take a close look and I discovered cracks in two shovels. It also reminded me that my pruners needed sharpening and that the snow shovel needed to come up to the house. Now I won't spend a lot of time next spring running around trying to find the tool for the job. I can just dive right in and get to work.