Weather Be Damned, Garden Festival Delivers Green Warmth

1. Weather Be Damned, Garden...

I’m itching to get out in my garden, but the chill wind and leftover snow disabuse me of that idea. So I do what tens of thousands of others do in February, head to the second largest indoor garden show in the country. The Northwest...
Sharp Idea: Clean Your Tools This Winter

2. Sharp Idea: Clean Your To...

Heather from a Southern California beach town contacted me recently about using sand for cleaning garden tools. She had come across my Seattle Times article on tool maintenance. This seemed like a good time to revisit this task, which I...
Autumn Garden Blazes

3. Autumn Garden Blazes

Autumn in my edible garden is a growing and even blooming season. With a backdrop of blazing fall tree color, cool season vegetables inch upwards like a roomful of nieces and nephews whose growth is notable at a holiday dinner visit. If...
advertisement advertisement

Weather Be Damned, Garden Festival Delivers Green Warmth

I’m itching to get out in my garden, but the chill wind and leftover snow disabuse me of that idea. So I do what tens of thousands of others do in February, head to the second largest indoor garden show in the country.

The Northwest Flower & Garden Festival is going on now at the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle. See my photos below from wandering the show yesterday.

If you’re coming today, stick around for my talk tonight at 7 p.m. I’ll try to fit your gardening to your lifestyle with “Make a Date With Your Garden.” The show continues through Sunday.

Arb garden
The Arboretum Foundation’s garden featured an Italian country house and a very prolific orange tree.
mideast
cover crop
Cover crop in a display garden, with a rain barrel. Build soil and save water!
Chinese dragaon
The Chinese dragon in this display garden was the show’s big hit.
chinese garden
greenhouse
al fresco
water
glamping
hobbit
pruning demo
Christina Pfeiffer does a pruning demo at the DIY stage.
wasabi
Raintree Nursery is selling a number of perennial vegetables, including wasabi.
Plant Amnesty
Plant Amnesty is in the non-profit exhibit area. Note their upcoming pruning day.
we need water
loop
King CD booth
Gwen talks to a visitor to the King Conservation District booth. Go to their website for information on free soil tests for county residents.
Douglas Fir
A quiz in the King Conservation District booth. OK, I’ll tell you: Douglas fir!
Ikebana
The annual Ikebana display always calms me down.
Gardeners Supply
Gardeners Supply Company brought their new Vertex Lifetime Tomato Cage to the show. Cool.
Diggit
Some of my favorite small tools are Diggit, made locally.
conifer soc
atrium garden
A cozy atrium garden, with the Pike Place Market visible down the street.
This is a great firepit, made by the folks at Ballard Reuse.

Sharp Idea: Clean Your Tools This Winter

Heather from a Southern California beach town contacted me recently about using sand for cleaning garden tools. She had come across my Seattle Times article on tool maintenance. This seemed like a good time to revisit this task, which I do every winter.

Hi Bill,

Someone from my local gardening group keeps her garden tools in a bucket of sand and swears by it. Then I posed the question if it has to be beach sand with salt and then refreshed once in a while and kept out of the rain or garden sand with no salt. She didn’t know either. And of course my google detective work isn’t panning out.

I look forward to your suggestions,

Heather

Hi Heather,

Cleaning garden tools in a bucket of sand is a great maintenance technique. I often just plunge them into the sand 4 or 5 times, then brush them off with a rag and store them in a rack or on a shelf. But you can keep them in the sand too.

tools in sand

I would not use sand that has salt in it – salt is corrosive to metals. Get a bag of play sand or construction sand (used to set patio pavers) from Home Depot or Lowe’s. Try to store the bucket of sand under cover, so it’s not too wet.

If you’re gardening near the beach in soil that has salty sand in it, I’d clean the tools promptly after gardening to get that salt off.

Some people mix a bit of oil into the sand (motor oil or vegetable oil) because oil on metal tools inhibits rust. But the oil is not strictly necessary.

If the tools already have rust or caked on stuff you can scrub that off with a wire brush or steel wool. A bit of oil while doing that helps too. You might want to wear gloves for that job.

Another great thing to do for your tools with wooden handles is to clean and smooth the wood with sandpaper once a year and rub in some linseed oil. That keeps the wood from cracking.

Final tip: sharpen digging tools like spades, shovels and trowels with a file (a “mill bastard” type, available at most hardware stores) in the winter. Then they’ll be all ready to use next season.

There, now you know more than you ever wanted to about garden tool maintenance.

Happy growing,
Bill

« Previous Entries