The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

The Garden Guide

February 6, 2013

Sanitation: An Important Garden Chore

ROCKY MOUNT — So, what will tomorrow bring?  At this time of year, we are riding the roller coaster up and down as winter and spring duke it out.  While it is still too early to start most seeded varieties of annual flower and vegetable varieties, it is not too early to prepare for the upcoming gardening season.  In addition to cutting back ornamental grasses and targeting cool season weeds with herbicide spot treatments, it is likely that your gardening tools and equipment require a little pre-season attention.

A wonderful publication out of Purdue University, Sanitation for Disease and Pest Management, makes the point clear: "A clean greenhouse [and clean gardening tools] lead to healthy plants, and healthy plants lead to happy growers.”

For the gardener, the obvious tools include pruners, saws, shovels, rakes and hoes. Hopefully at the end of 2012 you washed all dirt and debris off of your equipment with soap and water and then applied a generous coat of lubricant to the cutting surfaces.  Although the visible dirt may be gone, invisible fungi, bacteria and viruses can sometimes remain on the assortment of hand tools, seed flats, pots and benches leading to infection in the upcoming crop.  The initial washing step is critical because soil and plant residues interfere with contact between sanitizer and the disease causing organisms. Soil residue and organic matter can also inactivate the sanitizer. Some of the most commonly used disinfectants include commercially available quaternary ammonium compounds and hydrogen dioxide in greenhouse operations and liquid bleach and alcohol on the homeowner level.  Each product will have different properties and will require different application methods and contact times.  Most products will require a swipe or a dip method followed by air-drying or rinsing.  It is also important to note that some products are more corrosive than others and can damage metal parts if not rinsed after treatment.  View the complete chart of "Treatments used for sanitizing tools, equipment, pots, flats, surfaces, and other related items" by Kelly

Ivors and Mike Munster, NC State University at http://tinyurl.com/cbme2ex.While we often resort to these chemical disinfectants, steam and

solarization provide another set of options. For steam, plastic items

should be heated to 150 degrees Fahrenheit for 60 minutes, while less sensitive items can be heated to 180 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes. The second option is to place gardening tools and equipment on a clean, solid surface and cover tightly with clear plastic.  As a result of the sun passing through the film, the temperature will rise rapidly and solarization will occur.  Extension specialist Dr. Kelly Ivors notes that temperatures exceeding 140 degrees Fahrenheit for 4-8 hours per day over the course of seven days should kill most pathogens.

Other simple practices that will help to reduce the spread of pathogens include:

• Storing tools and equipment off of the ground when not in use,

• Avoiding the contact of hose ends and watering wands with the soil surface and hang all watering equipment on walls or suspended hooks between irrigation cycles,

• Removing diseased plant material from your garden immediately and wash your hands frequently to avoid transmitting disease organisms, and

• Using sanitizing wipes on pruners after each cut when disease is suspected.

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The Garden Guide
  • pink-nerine.jpg Ask A Master Gardener

    Edgecombe’s Extension Master Gardener Volunteers are holding their Spring-Planting Bulb Event tomorrow (March 23) at Marrow-Pitt Ace Home Center in the garden department from 10 a.m. until 1 pm. The volunteers will be giving demonstrations on basic bulb planting as well as container planting (bring your own or purchase one from stock).  A variety of pre-packaged summer and fall-blooming bulbs will be sold including: ginger lilies, rain lilies, galtonia, agapanthus, tuberosa, liatris, tigridia, cannas, nerines and many more.  Proceeds from the bulb sales will fund the Extension Master Gardener Volunteers’ spring/summer projects, including those sanctioned by this year’s America in Bloom competition committee. Ace is located at 1713 N. Main St.

    March 22, 2013 2 Photos

  • Master-Gardener.jpg "Ask A Master Gardener"

    Buddy H. (Tarboro) asks: I discovered this unusual substance wrapping the stems on all of my compacta holly when I was pruning them last week.

    March 15, 2013 1 Photo

  • Weeds.jpg Ask A Master Gardener

    "As the promise of spring begins to beckon the attention of "dormant" gardeners this time of year, so it is with those dormant weeds that will appear soon enough, making for a lot of catch up work to get our lawns ready for show time," says local Master Gardener Trainee, Bernice Pitt who has just completed certification in an NC State University course in Turf Management.  Pitt is manager of the lawn and garden center at Marrow-Pitt Ace Home Center in Tarboro and is ready to help you with solutions in
    maintaining your lawn.  "I have found that the best source for answers to questions regarding turf grasses is the site:
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    www.turfweedmanagement.ncsu./weedmanagement.aspx," Pitt added. "It's where we found answers to this week's questions."

    March 8, 2013 1 Photo

  • Master Gardener.jpg "Ask A Master Gardener"

    "Ask A Master Gardener" is a weekly column providing our readers solutions to common problems concerning horticulture, gardening, and pest management. Trained Extension Master Gardener Volunteers have access to the research that provides answers.
    Submit your questions by email to  askemgv@gmail.com, call the local Extension Center at 641-7815 and tell them you have a question for a master gardener; a volunteer will return your call with a solution to your problem, or write to "Ask A Master Gardener", c/o The Daily Southerner, P.O. Box 1199, Tarboro, 27886.

    February 22, 2013 1 Photo

  • N1204P66020C.jpg “Ask A Master Gardener”

    Ronnie E. (Conetoe) asks: What is the best temperature and method to store fresh pecans?

    February 8, 2013 1 Photo

  • Filbrun 2.jpg Sanitation: An Important Garden Chore

    So, what will tomorrow bring?  At this time of year, we are riding the roller coaster up and down as winter and spring duke it out.  While it is still too early to start most seeded varieties of annual flower and vegetable varieties, it is not too early to prepare for the upcoming gardening season.

    February 6, 2013 1 Photo

  • "Ask A Master Gardener"

    John W. (Tarboro) Asks: A neighbor posed this question to pass along. They did nothing to winterize their yard and, as a result, have all of the winter-type weeds that survive everything. They wanted to know if there is anything they can do now to kill off the weeds and what and when do they start to try and green up their yard and kill back weeds as we head out of winter.

    February 4, 2013

  • image002-resized.jpg Ask A Master Gardener

    This week, we have two questions coming from visitors to the Blount-Bridgers House Garden.  The garden committee works regularly each week to maintain this lovely garden oasis in Tarboro’s Historic District. Garden manager, Jeni Filbrun invites you to join the volunteers, “the weekly weeders,” each Wednesday morning at 10 for an hour of garden tending.

    January 28, 2013 3 Photos

  • Master gardener.jpg Ask A Master Gardener

    “Ask A Master Gardener” is a weekly column providing our readers solutions to common problems concerning horticulture, gardening, and pest management.  Trained Extension Master Gardener Volunteers have access to the research that provide answers.  
    Submit your questions by email to askemgv@gmail.com.  Or call the local Extension Center at 252-641-7815 and tell them you have a question for a master gardener; a volunteer will return your call with a solution to your problem, or write to “Ask A Master Gardener”, c/o The Daily Southerner, P.O. Box 1199, Tarboro, NC 27886.

    January 11, 2013 1 Photo

  • paperwhite bulbs-3.jpg Ask A Master Gardener

    “Ask A Master Gardener” is a weekly column providing our readers solutions to common problems concerning horticulture, gardening, and pest management.  Trained Extension Master Gardener Volunteers have access to the research that provide answers.  
    Submit your questions by email to askemgv@gmail.com.  Or call the local Extension Center at 252-641-7815 and tell them you have a question for a master gardener; a volunteer will return your call with a solution to your problem, or write to “Ask A Master Gardener”, c/o The Daily Southerner, P.O. Box 1199, Tarboro, NC 27886.

    January 4, 2013 1 Photo

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