Maddy: Getting ready for winter

Published 6:05 pm Friday, November 3, 2017

This might be better titled “Getting Ready for Spring.” Many of the things that we do now will make our spring gardening much more enjoyable.

An old remedy for dull shovels was to recycle old motor oil in a bucket fill with sand. As you push and pull the shovel in and out of the sand. It cleans the rust off and brightens it like new. It also coats the shovel with a light coating of oil, which will prevent rust. For those who love power tools, an angle grinder equipped with a wire brush can do the same thing.

You can also put a sharp edge with a grinding wheel or file. This also works for many types of hoes. Make sure you wear safety glasses and a face shield when you operate angle grinders. Spray with WD-40 or a similar product to keep away rust as well. These products don’t attract dirt like oil does.

Many of our hand pruners and lopping shears can also use some tender loving care. Cleaning out the old debris and spraying with a lubricant to keep away rust. Lightly sanding down the hickory handles of most tools will prevent splinters later on. Using a wipe on polyurethane or spray will also make them like new. The most important aspect of tool maintenance is to keep them stored indoors. This prevents a multitude of problems.

Keeping your sprayers in good condition is also important. Triple rinsing the sprayer tank will clean out any residue. Fill the tank to about ¼ and spray clean water to clear out the lines. An old toothbrush works well to clean the sprayer nozzles. Check the condition of the “o” rings and replace if necessary. This will help keep dripping to a minimum.

If you are in the market for a new sprayer, purchase one that has either two nozzles in a “Y” configuration or one with four orifices. Many insecticides such as Neem oil need to be sprayed on the underside of the leaf as well on the top. Multiple spray nozzles make this easier to do.

On engine powered tools, replace your air filter or clean it if it’s a foam type. Change the oil according to the owner’s manual. There are now oil extraction pumps that siphon the oil from the dipstick to prevent all the mess. Sharpen the mower blades and remove all the debris wrapped around the roto-tiller tines. Disconnect the spark plug wire to prevent inadvertent starting.

This is a good time to grease all the fittings. If you need a manual, use the model number and serial number on the nameplate and “Google” the manufacture and the numbers. Most manufacturers will allow you to download the manuals.

If you want everything to start next spring do some preventive maintenance. Leaving untreated gas in the carburetor will cause it to volatilize and leave gum deposits behind which will cause difficult starting next spring. There are two things you can do. Drain as much gas out of the tank as you can and run the tool until it stops. The carburetor will be empty at this point. The second alternative is to purchase a gas treatment, which will prevent the gasoline from deteriorating and causing the gum buildup. It will work in both two-cycle and four-cycle engines.

Next spring you should be off to pretty good start if you implement some of these suggestions.

What’s going on in Extension?

Nov. 14: Tuesday Lunch-n-Learn at the LaGrange Library at noon. “Small Engine Maintenance” is the topic. Note that the date has changed.

Nov. 9: MGEV Meeting “Fall Garden Maintenance Program” Open to the public. 6:30 p.m. at the Ag Center. Program begins at 7 p.m.

Nov. 14: What’s a Good Hunting Lease?” UGA Wildlife Specialist Mark McConnell will speak at 7 p.m. at the Ag Center. Call (706) 883-1675 to register.

Nov. 20: Troup County Association of Beekeepers 7 p.m. at the Ag Center

Nov. 21: Troup County Cattleman’s Association: “NRCS and FSA Programs” Meal starts at 7 p.m. The cost is $6. Call ahead for reservations,  at (706) 443-7697. The program will start at 7:30 p.m. at the Ag Center

Brian Maddy is the ANR Agent for Troup County Extension. The Troup County Extension office is located at 144 Sam Walker Dr. LaGrange, GA. 30240 (706) 883-1675. Monday through Friday/8 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m.