With spring planting season approaching, it's time to take stock of what's in your garden shed or garage. That way you make sure to use what you have and toss out what you can't salvage.
Here are some tips on what to do with your leftover gardening supplies:
Toss out old seeds if they appear dried out or have mold or fungus, says Jon Childers of Mesquite Valley Growers.
Otherwise, they're OK to plant regardless of the date on the seed packet.
If they don't sprout in a week or 10 days, then sow newly bought seeds. You haven't lost much in trying old seeds.
"You're losing a little bit of time," Childers says, "but if it's early in the season, you have the entire season in front of you."
Any leftover soil amendments, including fertilizers, will be fine to use as long as they have been kept dry, says Mesquite Valley's Rodney White.
White cautions that stored amendments that are wet will break down and lose their potency.
Wet manure could get too hot to use safely, he adds. He recalls spreading an old bag of poultry manure that had been wet. "I burned some plants with it," he says.
Stored hot fertilizer also poses a fire and explosion hazard, according to the Arizona Master Gardener Manual by Pima County Cooperative Extension.
Leftover garden or potting soil also should be fine to use, White says.
Sometimes bags of soil will "get kind of funky or moldy or stinky" if they got wet and the organic matter started breaking down, he says.
"You could still use it. Definitely dry it out and mix it in with something else."
Follow the container directions for disposal of chemicals. White says leftover chemicals can be used if they were properly stored for up to three years.
The master gardener manual suggests discarding anything with damaged labels or in damaged containers.
Try to buy only what you need so that you don't store toxic pesticides and herbicides in the first place, according to the manual.
You can safely dispose of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers at several household-hazardous-waste collection centers. For information, call 888-6947.
Do not pour these down a drain or where they can pollute the water supply, the manual says.
Horticulturists at Tucson Botanical Gardens suggest doing these tasks around the garden in February:
• Continue to watch for frosts and freezes that can damage sensitive plants.
• Prune dormant trees, but not spring-flowering plants.
• Fertilize flowering perennials such as irises and roses. Start fertilizing citrus around Valentine's Day.
• Pull weeds before they go to seed.
Contact Tucson freelance writer Elena Acoba at firstname.lastname@example.org