Easy spring shed tidy up – what to keep and what to throw away – The Middle-Sized Garden
February 5th, 2022 Posted In: Sheds/sanctuaries
It’s time for the potting shed tidy up.
While I’m sorting the tools and accessories, I’ll picking out which ones I want to replace or repair and which I’ll throw away .
The best quick shed tidy tip
I hate tidying, so I have to force myself. One trick I’ve found useful is to ‘chunk it down.’
Instead of putting aside a whole morning or afternoon for a shed tidy, I commit to 15 minutes of tidying whenever I’ve got some free time during the week.
After all, we can all survive 15 minutes of doing something we hate. And it’s amazing how much can get done in just 15 minutes.
Once the timer goes, I usually stop tidying, but sometimes I want to keep going.
It’s a very effective use of time because you tidy continuously. There’s no stopping for a coffee, a quick phone call or any other form of procrastination. Four 15 minute sessions will almost always achieve more than an whole hour set aside.
It also helps tidying the shed fit into an otherwise busy schedule.
An easy records system
One aspect of keeping your shed tidy is to have a good records system that you can even use when you’re in a hurry. Once you’ve planted a new plant, keep the label so that you remember what variety it was. But that doesn’t have to mean keeping a records book, writing everything down, then thumbing back through lots of pages when you want to refer to it.
I got the idea of using a pot to store plant labels and thereby record plant names from a friend of mine who has a lovely garden.
Rather than keep a record book noting plant names and where the plants are, she just puts the label into this pot when she’s finished planting. When she wants to remind herself of a plant name or variety, she can usually find the right label in the pot quite quickly.
This wouldn’t work if you had a large garden. But in a small or middle-sized garden, where you’re only planting a few dozen new plants a year, it’s a quick and easy way of keeping a record.
Just pop the label into the pot after you’ve planted a plant. It’s usually quite easy to work out which plant went where, and it’s quicker than writing it all down in a book. It wouldn’t work in a large professional garden, though!
Now is a good time to sort it through it. Throw out any labels from plants that have died. I regret to say that there are a few.
Should you wash seed trays and pots?
There are used pots and seed trays piled up on every surface.
Firstly, should I wash and sterilise seed trays and pots so that pests and diseases can’t be passed on from one season to the next?
This is an issue that some people feel passionate about. The internet is full of sometimes quite complex instructions for washing, bleaching, disinfecting and sterilising your pots and trays. You will be told that these must be thoroughly sterilised before you re-use. The aim is generally to prevent ‘damping off’ or similar viruses.
Damping off is when seedlings die, due to fungus or funghi-type organisms. These can be passed on through dirty seed trays. But the RHS says you should not re-use any seed trays where seedlings have died from damping off.
And the most important way of preventing seedlings from damping off is to use specialist seed compost and not to over-water. See more seed sowing tips here.
British flower farmer Sue Oriel of Country Lane Flowers always washes and dries her pots and seed trays, but she doesn’t use disinfectant or sterilise them.
Other people I know pop them in the dishwasher, although you might want to check that whatever your pots and seed trays are made of is dishwasher proof.
So yes, wash your seed trays and pots. Sterilise or disinfect if you are worried. But in the interests of saving time, I don’t.
Sort your gardening gloves once a year
The annual shed tidy is a great time to marshall all your gardening gloves together. All gardening gloves wear out eventually, although I often lose them before that happens. I especially find that one hand disappears – for me it’s the right hand glove.
So this is a good time to gather all the gloves together and pair up any stray gloves. Throw away any that don’t have partners or that have worn through. I always think ‘they might come in useful one day.’ But they never do. So out!
And wash the ones you want to keep.
Check through the gardening gloves once a year, and throw out any that have lost their other half or gone through at the fingers.
Buy new gardening gloves
And it’s time – every few years – to buy some more gardening gloves.
I particularly like gardening gloves which are strong but flexible. There’s nothing worse than not being able to move your hands properly. I like to buy gloves from Showa They’re washable and very hard wearing, so I bought a pack of two pairs of Showa Gardening gloves from Amazon. I’m in several professional gardeners Facebook groups, and many of the pros speak highly of Showa.
One other favourite pair is apparently made from knitted glass. I bought them at the Melbourne International Flower Show in Australia about four years ago. They don’t have a brand on them, but they are brilliant so if anyone knows of a brand of Australian knitted glass gardening gloves, please do say.
Note that links to Amazon are affiliate, which means they help support this blog, thank you. See disclosure.
Storage tips to keep your shed tidy
I find it much more convenient to have tools hanging up, because it’s easy to grab what you want.
Artist William Ford upcycled the interior of the shed a few years ago. He used a piece of a grid that used to cover a garden pond. But you can get sections of metal grid for walls anywhere.
The hooks are butchers hooks. I’ve just bought some new ones. I’d suggest avoiding the ones with sharp points and choose the ones with rounded points.
It all works very well. I’ve never thought I would be the sort of person to keep my shed tidy, but although it does get messy, it’s now much easier and quicker to get it straight again.
When I do some gardening, I take down the tools I need and carry them round the garden in a carrier bag. I even have a Middlesized Garden carrier bag.
These tools are hanging on an old pond grid, but you could also use a wall grid. The mugs are my Middlesized Garden mugs which say ‘Gardeners Learn By Trowel & Error’, available from the Middlesized Garden Spring store.
Service your tools in the annual shed tidy
I’m on several professional gardeners’ Facebook groups. (I wouldn’t call myself a professional gardener, by the way, I’m an amateur who interviews professionals!).
There are often discussions in the groups on the best secateurs to get. Both Felco and Niwaki are often recommended. I’ve had my Felco 7 secateurs for around 20 years. They’re still going strong, but were looking shabby. Burton McCall, who handle Felco in the UK, offered to service them for free, so that I could review their secateur servicing. It usually costs £25. They came back as shiny as new, and there’s no doubt that they feel smoother to use.
New Felco 7s can cost around £60, so that’s less than half the cost of buying new again. Secateurs do need regular sharpening and servicing. Felco also sell spare parts and have good secateur maintenance videos on their website.
My newly serviced Felcos are snipping the dead heads off these hydrangeas beautifully.
If you’re tempted to replace the shed altogether, read this before ordering a new shed. And if you’d like to build a shed yourself, using recycled materials and the minimum of outside help, read how to build a unique shed.
For something less radical, here are 8 simple and cheap ways to transform your shed.