Thursday, March 25, 2010

First Trip to the Garden Shed!

My first spring trip down to our garden shed every year should be as joyful as the sound of the song birds returning to our yard and gardens. In truth it’s more like cracking open a good Steven King novel, everything seems okay at first but the deeper you get into it you can be sure nothing good is to come of it. So with this truth in mind my dog and I headed down to the shed. I have peaked into the shed a couple of times during the winter and I remember even cracking the door open once to throw in some wayward tools I found still in the garden over the winter.

So here I stand--my dog and I--looking at the shed door. My dog is wagging her tail in the expectation of knowing that any moment when the door opens some furry critter is going to come charging out and the race will be on. I need to do the annual inventory of my Spring gardening supplies, check all my gardening implements and try to remember what was broken when I put it away (I am wondering if somehow maybe “the broken” is no longer broken, like that’s going to happen!) With both of our expectations firmly planted in our heads the door opens, everything looks peaceful and then the dog goes in. You know NASCAR has nothing on a Red Squirrel--fast off the line and red squirrels can easily weave in and out of traffic! Great, with her expectations met and out of my way I begin my evaluation of the chaos in front of me.

My tools are my first point of interest, I’ll need them soon so they have to be ready to use. “Shovel ready as they say!” There really is very little that can go wrong with shovels, rakes, edgers and hoes. Although after 35 years of gardening on my own I have broken a few handles and blades. It’s truly a shame but it seems almost impossible to find replacement handles for any of these tools anymore. But when you use these tools for what they were designed to do, broken handles usually are from their age and not their quality. When replacing tools I first make sure they feel good in my hands and the price does reflect the quality. You get what you pay for! Skillin’s offers the Radius Tool line and I am finding the Radius Tools to be top quality and easy to handle. They feel good in my hands. With digging tools in particular check the gauge or thickness of the steel, how the handles are put together and usually a cast tool lasts longer than a tool that has been stamped out like a Christmas Cookie (this another way of saying welded tool). However even those can last for years working in light soils. After inspection, my tools look to be ready for action, although I do have to sharpen with a file the edge on the shovel I use for dividing perennials. Too much sharpening can shorten a shovels life. However a relatively sharp edge is necessary for dividing perennials.
(This is not Terry's shed but I thought a glimpse of summer beauty is never a bad thing. His shed does not look QUITE this good!)
I garden almost exclusively with organic fertilizers and natural soil amendments. Unlike some of the synthetic garden solutions letting these organic products freeze is not a “deal breaker” however my bags of organic amendments have pretty much turned into a solid. Wicked smart of me--but like most guys I have done this before! I wrap the bags in and old piece of blue tarp and with a piece of 2X4 I have carefully crafted just for such an occasion I put on my safety glasses and break it up into it’s fine powder state once again. I really do try not to have “leftovers” in the Fall but it happens. With the knowledge from my University of Maine soil test I’ll work lime and fertilizer into our gardens. There are no pesticides in my shed, in general organic or not they really should not freeze. My garden plan for pesticides is to buy only the amount I need to complete the task. If I have to store pesticides I keep them where they can’t freeze and secured from my grandkids.

Now it’s the odds and ends like twine, I use twine all season long. I string it out along my beds so that I can edge out new straight edges, tie up my peppers, tomatoes, egg plants and various perennials when needed. Plant markers, a new blade for my #2 Felco hand pruners and gloves are needed-- I never seem to get more than a season out of gloves! Of course there will be more to my Spring garden needs over the next few weeks but this will get me and my dog going started--although she got we she came for!

Terry Skillin
Skillin's Greenhouses
March 25, 2010


Finishing Touches said...

Well done! Makes me wish I had a shed and, of course, a dog!
Thanks Terry.

marie temm said...

Terry,great comments.Itoo checked my garden shed this past week,and made the list.See you when I come to gardening 101 this Sat.M. Temm

marie temm said...

ngebi roteriaTerry,great comments.Itoo checked my garden shed this past week,and made the list.See you when I come to gardening 101 this Sat.M. Temm