With winter sadly drawing ever closer – we began the process of putting the garden, garden tools, farm truck and tractor to bed for a winter’s rest.

One of the best things you can do if you are a gardener is to take a little time in the fall to take care of the tools and equipment that take care of you.

Putting The Garden To Bed

A nice protective and nutritious coat of annual rye now grows in our planting rows - protecting the soil for the long winter months.
A nice protective and nutritious coat of annual rye now grows in our planting rows – protecting the soil for the long winter months.

Now that the cover crops are growing in all of the planting rows – the only chore left in the garden is to apply a thick mulch to our fall onion and garlic rows – and mulch the walking rows.

Hand Tools:

Since our entire garden is virtually worked with hand tools – keeping them sharp and well cared for is a must.

Before hanging them up in the barn for the winter – we will clean off and sharpen the blades on all of our shovels, rakes, hoes’, clippers, etc.

We then apply a thin coat of oil on all of the metal blades and tips to prevent any rust through the winter months.  A quick mist spray of WD-40 or 3-in-1 oil is all it takes to keep them rust free.

Mowers, String Trimmers and Tractor.

A little fall TLC on the tractor and other equipment goes a long way in keeping them running
A little fall TLC on the tractor and other equipment goes a long way in keeping them running

These all get the same treatment – a thorough cleaning and sharpening of blades before storing them away.

It just seems easier in the slower pace of fall to take off the blades and perform the necessary oil changes and greasing.  It makes it nice and easy to be ready to roll come the hustle of spring.

For all of the gas engines we use – we follow a simple procedure.  Instead of adding any fuel additives to the existing gas – we run them dry during their last use -and park them in the barn – preventing bad gas and hard starting in the spring.

Learning our Lesson from the Mice

The mice took a toll last year on our truck and inside the barn.

The original plan was to get a barn cat or two – but that will have to wait until next year.  Although – we do have one of the neighbors cats that has been lurking in ours – and we are more than fine with him visiting anytime he wants.

We put dryer sheets and mothballs inside the truck now, along with a few mouse traps to keep the critters from taking up residence in the winter.

Collecting Leaves to Mulch, Insulate And Store:

Our "new" old corn crib structure...not used to hold corn, but leaves for use in our compost bin
Our “new” old corn crib structure…not used to hold corn, but leaves for use in our compost bin.  We made it from old barn wood – and it can store tons of leaves for use throughout the fall and next summer.

With falling leaves in abundance right now – our drive by neighborhood collections have begun. We look for bagged leaves awaiting city pick up at houses with lots of maple, ash or fruit trees in the yard.

Leaves are one of the best and cheapest (actually free) ways to help the garden soil. Usually in about an hour – we have enough collected to fill the old farm truck and keep us with leaves throughout the year.

We use them anywhere and everywhere we can – as mulch and as a main ingredient for our compost bin.  We will shred many of them with the lawnmower and then use them as the mulch for our fall planted onions and garlic.

We also place a thick covering of leaves in the walkways of the garden rows.  They do a great job of smothering any weeds – and then in the spring we just top it off with a little straw.

The straw is easier to walk on and provides a neat and tidy top layer during the growing season – but the leaves do a better job of smothering out any weeds – and they are free!

Last but not least, we then use all of the extra leaves we can find to fill our “leaf” corn crib we built from old barn wood.

It is built in the exact style of an old fashioned corn crib – and we use it store 100’s of bags of collected leaves that we can store to use next year throughout the summer. (See: Composting Leaves)

Putting Away The Rest.

Last but not least- it was time to put away all of the outdoor tables, chairs, grill, garden markers and everything else that could be stored.

We clean them off, and bring them in to prevent old man winter from shortening their life span! It usually only takes a day to complete everything, but with most of our equipment on the farm serving it’s second or third life – it pays huge dividends in saving money on having to replace things due to needless winter wear.

Happy Gardening!!!  – Jim and Mary

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