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TOOLS OF THE TRADE Photo courtesy of WITH SUMMER FINALLY OVER, IT IS TIME FOR GARDENERS TO TURN THEIR FOCUS TO OFF-SEASON CHORES By Rick Wielgorecki Contributing Writer With cooler temperatures finally arriving and the rainy season over, it is time for us to take a deep breath of drier air and congratulate ourselves for getting through another searing summer. The bounty of four consecutive months averaging 10 or more inches of rain has raised the water table way above normal, and it is nice to have a surplus as we enter the dry season. This is a good time to sharpen and lubricate the tools that have served us well during the months of heavy pruning and trimming. Amateurs and professionals both need to utilize quality tools that help make clean cuts. These promote healthy plants, free of ragged edges that injure them and subject them to stress, disease and general poor health. The tool I pick up first is my precious set of hand pruners. The model I use is the No. 2; it is Swiss-crafted by the company that earned its stellar reputation by producing the famous Swiss Army knives. The pruners are my most used and cherished tool. These sturdy beauties usually will last a decade (even under heavy professional use) because they are incredibly well made. Moreover, when their components wear out (they never really break), replacements are easy to acquire.

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