If you’re like me, you’re getting antsy to get outside and dig in the dirt. Within the next couple of weeks, I’ll be pruning our grapevines. But until then, one thing I can do while I’m waiting for the snow and ice to melt is to clean and sanitize my gardening tools and equipment.
Many fungal, bacterial, and viral diseases can be spread with “dirty” gardening tools such as pruners, hoes, shears, stakes, and containers. Probably the most common sanitizing solution is a mixture of 9 parts water with 1 part bleach. Products such as Lysol, Pine-Sol, and isopropyl alcohol may also be used but are generally more expensive than using the bleach mixture. Here are couple of tips before you begin cleaning:
- Before sanitizing, be sure to wash the dirt and plant debris off your tools. Dirt can neutralize the chlorine in the bleach.
- When sanitizing, let your tools soak in the solution for a few minutes.
Some experts suggest you let the tools air dry and although the tool smells of bleach it is safe to use around your plants. Others suggest rinsing the tool after soaking to prevent rust and corrosion. I rinsed mine.
Although it’s too cold to do this today, but before I set my tomatoes out, I will wash my tomato cages with a bleach solution. That will be a job, but since tomatoes are so sensitive to disease, it will be worth the effort.
This year I would like to get in the habit of cleaning and disinfecting my pruners after each use throughout the growing season. It’s so easy to forget or procrastinate, but our tomatoes and roses would be so thankful if I would acquire this good habit.
Hang in there, everybody. Spring is coming!