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OUT IN THE YARD — Prepare garden tools for winter

Temperatures this week have dropped to nightly temperatures of 38 to 29 degrees on Monday and Tuesday to nightly temperatures in the 40s the rest of the week. That means I will have picked all the citrus off my trees, covered my lemon tree with Christmas lights for added warmth and brought in all my tropical plants from outside. We are three days early to the first frost. Preparation for winterization of your garden tools and equipment begins now!

Use a wire brush, like the one used on your grill, on garden tools to take off dried dirt. Rinse. Sanitize tools with a bleach solution to prevent transfer of any diseases from season to season. The rate is one cup of bleach per gallon of water. Dip the tools into the solution. Dry and store tools. Store clean and sanitized hand tools and other small tools in a 5-gallon bucket of sand with oil to prevent rust. Recycle oil drained from your car or mower can be added to the sand. Cleaned shovels and hoes can also be dipped in the sand and oil bucket. Dry with an old rag. Alternately, you can wipe the metal blades of small or large garden tools with an oily cloth as this prevents corrosion. Hang rakes and shovels where they will be readily accessible.

Sharpen all shovels, hoes and pruning shears using a whetstone or file. Work 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. Coat the metal of the newly sanded tool with a light oil or WD-40. Wipe a light coating of linseed oil or paste wax on the wooden handles to prevent cracking or splitting.

Bring water hoses in out of the weather to protect from freeze damage. Drain water from the hoses. Remove kinks from water hoses and coil correctly for storage. Repair leaks with a hose repair kit. Check sprayer nozzles to make sure they spray evenly. Replace hoses and sprayer nozzles if needed.

On your mower, be sure to clean and sharpen the blades, drain the oil and gasoline, clean the air filter and wash the underside of the lawn mower. If you leave gasoline in your lawn mower, add a fuel stabilizer.

Store liquid pesticides in a locked cabinet where they will not freeze. Check belts, blades, etc. on all power equipment and make needed repairs.

Make a list of new garden tools or equipment you want so Santa and Rudolph will bring them!

Reach Jefferson County Master Gardener Eileen Slater at jcmgenslater@gmail.com or call the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service at 409-835-8461