What’s happening this month?
Ask an Expert: I have found that my garden tools wear out quickly. Any suggestions for extending their usefulness?
“Definitely invest in good-quality tools, as they will last a long time if properly maintained. After each use, brush off any loose dirt. If stubborn soil remains, rinse it off, then dry the item well before storing.
Aim to tend to your tool collection more thoroughly at least once a year. Here are a few pointers:
■ Inspect for damage that may need repair—making sure, for example, to check that handles are securely fitted. Use 80-grit sandpaper to remove any raised grain on wooden handles and apply boiled linseed oil to keep the wood from drying out.
■ Wearing protective eye gear and gloves, sharpen large tools such as shovels with an eight-inch flat file, using the existing angle on the tool as your guide. It’s a lot easier than you may think! Get scissors and shears working like new with a whetstone or carbide sharpener.
■ Rust happens quickly in the humid South; to slow down the process, coat metal surfaces with linseed oil. Also oil the pivot points with a few drops of three-in-one general purpose lubricating oil.” —Joan McDonald, garden editor
Gardening Tip: Wondering if seeds you harvested last year—or had leftover—are viable? Soak a paper towel in water, then spread 10 seeds on half of it. Fold the towel to cover the seeds, and place it in a sealed clear plastic bag. Cool-season seeds like germination temps between 55 and 75 degrees; warm-season seeds prefer 75 to 85 degrees. Check every few days to see how many have germinated—this’ll give you an idea of what percentage will sprout if planted.
CHS Lecture Series
Andrea Sprott, garden curator at Charlotte’s Elizabeth Lawrence House and Garden, gives the Charleston Horticultural Society’s January lecture. The Charleston Museum, 360 Meeting St. Monday, 6:30 p.m. $10; free for member. www.chashortsoc.org
Charleston Trees Annual Oyster Roast
Help raise funds for planting trees in Charleston’s public spaces while cracking open oysters and digging into chili. Lowndes Grove Plantation, 266 St. Margaret St. Sunday, 1-4 p.m. $45. www.charlestonparksconservancy.org