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Now's time to winterize your garden equipment

November 17, 2007|By BOB KESSLER

The growing season is over for most people, but now we need to take care of a few winterizing activities.

    • Those hoses you used more than you wanted this year need to be cleaned, drained and put away. Unhook them from the outside faucet and use a rag to wipe off any dirt and as you do this, be sure to drain the hose. Store the hoses in a dry location. If you have a hose support, the hose can be stored on it. Do not hang the hose on a nail. If you don't have a hose support, store it so there are no kinks.

      • Sprayers for insect and weed control should be washed and rinsed. Run clean water through the nozzle hose. Remove the tip and clean it with soap and water. Oil metal parts with a spray lubricant to prevent rust.

        • Wipe all wooden handles of shovels and rakes with boiled linseed oil. Sharpen hoe and shovel blades and spray with lubricant.

          • Add gas stabilizer to your lawn mower's gas tank and run the tractor a few minutes to get stabilized gas in the carburetor.

            • Remove the battery from your lawn tractor and store it in the basement. These batteries are smaller than car batteries and if left in a cold area for months without recharging, they could become damaged. Your battery needs to be recharged occasionally during winter, or hooked up to a Battery Tender type of battery charger. Clean up the battery terminals if needed.

            • If you have a full gas can, you can put stabilizer in your gas for the winter.

              Storing garden seed

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If you have leftover garden seeds, they can be saved for next year if kept in a cool, dark, dry location. Most seeds will be good for one to two years past the year you purchase them. After that the germination rate gets too low.

If you have seeds you are unsure of, you can do a germination test. Count out 10 seeds on a wet paper towel, roll it up loosely and place it in a plastic bag that has a few ventilation holes. Place the roll in a warm place like the top of the refrigerator. Use warm water to dampen the paper towel when needed. After seven to 10 days, check to see how many seeds germinate. Count the ones that germinate and remove them. Put the sample back in place for another week. Check for more germinated seeds. This number added to the first gives you an idea of your potential germination. You should have at least a 50 to 60 percent germination rate if you are going to save the seeds until next spring.

Seed catalogs

If you are an experienced gardener and you haven't gotten a seed catalog in the mail, you will be surprised at all of the different herbs and vegetables now listed for you to try. A catalog that recently arrived in our office had extensive information on every type of vegetable offered, from how to grow the plant to how to harvest, information on disease and pests, and how to tell when some crops are ripe. There's enough information to try the crop even if you never planted it before.

Watch for the seed catalogs to arrive and if you don't currently get them, you can find ads for them in the back of most home magazines. If there is a special one you are looking for but can't find, give us a call and we will help you track it down.

Recycle aluminum

Each time you throw out an aluminum soda can, you are tossing out two to three cents. That is because the price of used metal has increased and that is the approximate value of an aluminum can. It takes 24 12-ounce cans to make a pound of scrap aluminum. The price right now is $.64 per pound. That figures out to 2.67 cents per can each time you throw one in the trash. That can goes to a landfill and is wasted. Our country has thrown out more than 112 billion cans and bottles this year.

When we recycle cans, we save energy because to make a new can takes nine times the energy it does to make a new can from an old one. We can make a new can in about 60 days from the time you recycle it. And it can be recycled over and over again. It is the most recyclable of all the materials we use in our everyday lives.




Bob Kessler is an extension agent specializing in farm and garden for Penn State University. He is based in Franklin County, Pa. He can be reached weekdays at 717-263-9226 or by e-mail at rxk4@psu.edu




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