Horticulture News: Take care storing chemicals, tools, seed for winter

By Kim Cowherd Published:

At the end of the gardening season is a great time to inventory your landscape tools, seed, and chemicals so you can be ready to start gardening on that first warm, sunny day in the spring. The following recommendations will help as you store your lawn and garden chemicals.

Safety is the primary concern in storing pesticides (insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, fertilizers, etc). It is important that products are kept out of the reach of children, pets, and those who should not come into contact with them. Also you will need to guard against accidental contamination of the environment in case of a spill, flood or fire.

Pesticides should be stored away from food items, animal feed and seed. Homeowners should keep chemicals in a storage cabinet, separate from other items, or at least on a high shelf, away from other items. Farmers, commercial landscapers, and others that keep large quantities of pesticides should keep them in a separate, secure, lighted building.

The cabinet or structure should be sound, dry and airy, and must be able to protect pesticides from extreme temperatures and moisture.  A “pesticide storage” sign should be placed on the door to warn emergency personnel and others of the contents. Fumes from chemicals in a fire can be very dangerous to anyone around, especially those battling the fire.

Chemicals can be hazardous to handle. Always keep protective equipment on hand like gloves and eye/body wash solutions in case of emergencies.  Keep sand, sawdust, or other absorbent material available and close by to contain liquid spills or leaks.

In addition, you’re trying to protect your investment in the products you have. Chemicals can be very expensive. If they are stored properly, most can last for at least two years on the shelf and still function effectively. Check the product label for specific storage directions.

Fall and winter months are also a good time to take inventory of all the products in the storage area. That way when you go to purchase chemicals for next year, you will know what you need. Check products in storage for damaged packaging and make sure the label is still readable.

Know the dates on your products and use the oldest ones first. Follow the label instructions for disposal when the chemicals are out of date or no longer needed.

On the farm or in the home, pesticide users may occasionally see products with telltale signs of ineffectiveness. Powdery products may start to clump and liquids may separate. Before disposing of the product, read the label to see if there are suggestions for correcting it. Sometimes rolling a bottle or shaking a product will help, but make sure the label allows these techniques before employing them.

In some situations, chemicals have been discontinued for use. Homeowners who have products containing phased out chemicals can use the product according to label directions until it is gone. It is best to use them up because the longer you keep them, the longer they have to become a disposal problem. Commercial products always have a list of active ingredients on the label. Check this list for the discontinued chemical.

If you have any questions on chemical storage or use, contact the Franklin County Extension Office, 101 Lakeview Ct., 695-9035, or email DL_CES_FRANKLIN@EMAIL.UKY.EDU@uky.edu.

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