[LEARFIELD] — As we head further into spring, this might be the ideal time for Minnesotans to get their gardening tools and other spring planting equipment ready for the season ahead. Horticulturist Aaron Steil says to thoroughly clean last year’s pots and containers if you plan to reuse them so you don’t transfer diseases or insects to the new plants.

“There are a couple of different ways that you can disinfect and clean them the easiest is to just use a solution of nine parts water to one part bleach and let them soak for a little bit and then just wash them with this detergent and dry them off and you’re ready to go,” Steil said.

If you’re pruning any existing plants, he also suggests cleaning the clippers between cuttings, especially if you’re trimming off diseased limbs or branches.

“Every time you make a pruning cut you are making a wound on that tree or shrub of course that open wound is more susceptible to being potentially infected and if you have really dirty pruners that makes it really easy to do that so the easiest thing for a home gardener to do is just simply use rubbing alcohol.”

While you’re in the shed, take down your shovel, rake, hoe, and other tools. Clean off any caked-on dirt from last year, and sharpen all of the edges, especially the garden spade.

“A lot of us don’t think about sharpening the edge of our spade but it makes a huge difference in being able to dig and cut edging out and those kinds of things and it’s a relatively straightforward process. All you need is a metal file and you can just bevel that edge of the shovel and you’ll have a tool that is easier and probably safer to use.”

Steil suggests wiping down metal surfaces with an oily rag or spraying with WD-40 to help prevent corrosion. Sand down rough wooden handles, too, then wipe them with linseed oil to prevent drying and cracking. You’ll also need to get the lawn mower ready for the season ahead.

“Check all the fluids on the mall or check all the filters those kinds of things if you did leave gas in the tank over the winter you will want to replace that gas before you started up for the season and make sure that you get that blade sharpened and you can sharpen the blade yourself.”

While the blade is off, Steil says it’s the ideal time to clean the mower deck, using a strong stream of water and a putty knife to remove built-up debris. It also wouldn’t hurt to replace the spark plug.