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Care of Garden Equipment

Clean-up of tools and equipment is another important practice related to the garden which should not be ignored in the fall. Proper clean-up of tools now will leave them in top shape and ready to use when spring arrives. Clean, oil, and mend all hand tools. Repaint handles or identification marks that have faded over the summer. Sharpen all blades and remove any rust. Power tools should be cleaned of all plant material and dirt. Replace worn spark plugs, oil all necessary parts, and sharpen blades. Store all tools in their proper place indoors, never outdoors where they will rust over the winter.

Unless you live in a warm area where your cold frame will protect vegetables all winter, you will need to clean up the frame when all vegetables have been harvested. Remove any plant material and add it to the compost pile. Spade compost into the soil in the cold frame as thoroughly as possible. Do not leave the top on the cold frame over the winter, as the weight of snow may crack the glass. Remove the top, wash it thoroughly, and store in a protected indoor area where it will not get broken.

Successful gardening needn't stop with the first frost. When following good garden care practices during the fall and early winter months, your garden will be ready for the growth of healthy vegetables next spring.

Excerpted from "Fall Vegetable Gardening" by Diane Relf, Virginia Cooperative Extension Specialist, Environmental Horticulture, Publication Number 426-334, August 1996, at www.ext.vt.edu.