A shed with tools on a pegboard
Tim Street-Porter

All Cleaned Up

Keep your potting shed in order with these simple tasks.

What You'll Need
• Pegboard
• Spray paint
• Various hooks for pegboard
• Acoustic ceiling tiles
• Roll of Burlap
• Scissors
• White vinegar
• Rubbing alcohol Spray bottle
• Stiff wire brush
• Large bucket or wheelbarrow
• Household bleach
• 1/4-, 1/2-, 1-inch wooden dowels
• 1-inch wood screws
• Toolbox or 5-gallon paint bucket
• Bag of play sand
• Bottle of motor oil
• Sandpaper
• Metal File
• Rag
• Linseed oil

Step 1: Organize garden supplies on a pegboard. Just as your kitchen and office are happier places to be when they're organized, your garden workspace, too, needs to be clutter-free and at the ready. We took two sheets of pegboard, covered them with graphite-colored spray paint, and added hooks. We even made a bulletin board with a sheet of acoustic ceiling tile covered in burlap.

Clay pots in a disinfecting solution
Tim Street-Porter

Step 2

Disinfect and store clay pots. First, combine equal parts white vinegar, rubbing alcohol, and water in a spray bottle. Apply the mixture to pots, and scrub with a wire brush to remove salt deposits (white rings).

Next, stack pots in a bucket or wheelbarrow, adding 1 cup bleach per gallon of water; soak overnight. Use the wire brush to scrub off remaining dirt. Let pots dry completely. Line the inside of each pot with burlap, and stack. (We snipped holes in the burlap and stored our on wooden dowels screwed to a board.)

Hand tools in a tool chest with sand
Tim Street-Porter

Step 3

Keep handtools at hand. Other than your trusty pruners, no garden goods get more of a summer workout that your handtools. First, give them a thorough cleaning, removing all the build-up crud over the past few months. Dry well. (Yes, you should go through these steps after every use, but don't beat yourself up over it -- we're all guilty.)

In a covered container (a toolbox or a 5-gallon paint bucket), mix a bag of play sand with one bottle of any motor oil, and then plunge in cleaned tools. Stored out of the elements in this gritty, lubricated mix, your tools should stay rust free until spring.

A wooden shovel handle rubbed with oil
Tim Street-Porter

Step 4

Treat wooden handles. Dab a rag with rich, penetrating linseed oil, which helps keep wood from drying out and breaking. Rub until all wood is covered.

A wooden shovel handle rubbed with oil
Tim Street-Porter

Step 5

Clean and sharpen garden tools. Your shovels, spades, forks, and hoes take a beating and need extra care to get them ready for use next spring. A stiff wire brush should remove the worst of the dirt, but keep a piece of sandpaper handy for the really tough stuff. Next, draw a file down the end of the tool until a clean shiny edge is exposed–do not saw up and down.

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