Chores for December
By Bob Dailey
December is a busy time of year for all of us. And it’s easy to disregard chores, especially if the weather is cold and wet.
There are, however, some tasks that you can take on that will make things a little simpler, not only for this month but also for the gardening season coming up.
- Clean and sharpen your tools.
Pruning back winter-damaged plants is much easier with clean and sharp tools. Clean rust off any blades – shovels, hoes, pruning shears, hand pruners, digging knives, trowels, mower blades, and anything else that may need sharpening. A steel brush is easy to use to clear away rust. If there are still a little rust in the crannies, use steel wool to finish the job.
Alternately, you can use vinegar…yes, common household white vinegar. This works best for smaller tools, but, if you have enough vinegar, you can use it on larger blades. Soak the blades in vinegar for 24 hours. After soaking, scrub the tools with a wire brush (and perhaps some steel wool).
Once you have finished cleaning a tool, you now need to oil it. One old method is to use a bucket of sand with motor oil, then stick the tool in it. That will keep the tool from rusting. But think about the fact that when you use the tool, you will be transferring that motor oil into the ground. And petroleum doesn’t do any favors for the microbial life in the soil or the plants you are pruning.
Instead, the best choice is boiled linseed oil. You don’t need a lot. Just take a cloth, dampen is with the linseed oil and wipe down the tool with it. Try to do this every time you use the tool. Boiled linseed oil can also be used to preserve the wood on your tools as well.
- Plan your garden
Drawing a garden plan does not need to be an art form. Just sketch out a plan on a piece of paper. Then write in where the tomatoes, the beans, the cucumbers, etc., are going to go. Take some time and figure out where the spring sun is going to move across your garden and plant accordingly.
- Order seed catalogs.
Almost all of these have an online presence, but they also have catalogs. Order a catalog from one and you’ll get a bunch of them from a lot of other seed and plant providers. Some people prefer to use the catalogs, because instead of going forward and backward on the website, they can just circle what they would like, then go back and parse the list.
Garden books, plants that you started from cuttings, spring-blooming bulbs, garden tools, and accessories are great gifts for your gardening friends.