Time to clean, sharpen and put away your gardening tools
Sharpen and clean your garden tools when putting them away for the season. Sharpen spades with an electric hand grinder and put the bevel on the inside edge of the spades.
It is important to wear ear and eye protection for this task as it is noisy, and sparks will fly as the grinder works. Move the grinder steadily back and forth to create the sharp edge and avoid burning the metal.
Well-maintained tools make gardening much easier. Use pegboard on your garage walls to hang and organize tools.
If your garage is unheated, it is best to store liquids in the basement. All sprayers should also be stored where they will not freeze, as any water left in the valves can freeze and break them.
• Have your snowblower serviced before the first measurable snowfall when repair shops may get backed up with repair and maintenance work.
• Winterize your hybrid roses after there have been a couple of hard freezes (temperatures in the teens Fahrenheit), which typically occur in late November at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Cut back rose canes to about 18 inches and mound the roses with 12 to 15 inches of compost or mulch for the winter. Do not use grass clippings that will mat down and hold moisture around the plants.
It is best to clean up and remove any rose leaves that have fallen if you had problems with black spot -- a common fungal disease. This disease will overwinter on infected foliage. Shrub and landscape roses do not require this special treatment for the winter.
• Clean out your gutters once all leaves have fallen and temperatures are above freezing. Leaves can clog up the gutters and are very difficult to remove if they become frozen.
• Tim Johnson is director of horticulture at Chicago Botanic Garden, chicagobotanic.org.