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Prepare to prune

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With the turn from frigid to just freezing, we’re in late winter now, heading into the Spring home stretch, hopefully. Gardeners! Prepare your pruners!

Using dry steel wool rub out any rust spots and use a little machine oil on the pivot point. Check the blades for chips, dings or dents. The thick blade on the bottom is called the anvil, the thinner curved blade is the cutting blade. If you see any dents or metal tags on the anvil, it’s time to sharpen it. Wrap a rag around the cutting blade before you start sharpening the anvil blade. You don’t want to make a trip to the emergency room! Use a sharpening stone to smooth out any burrs or tags, dings or chips. You’re looking to keep a clean right angle on that blade. A few drops of oil can make this job a little easier.

Now for the cutting blade, hold the pruners so the cutting blade is parallel to the ground and the cutting edge is away from you. Hold your stone or file at the same beveled angle as the blade and move it across the blade away from your chest, repeat, always moving the sharpening stone or file away from your body. Make an occasional pass on the backside of the blade to smooth out any irregularities and keep a fine cutting edge.

Sharp pruners are good for you and good for your plants. When you make those cuts, you want a smooth precise cut. If you’re getting torn, crushed or splintered cuts, your chances of attracting insects that bring disease multiplies. That’s another reason to prune during this time of the year. Your trees are dormant, less sap will run and healing takes place quicker. When pruning shrub branches, come out about ¼ inch from the main branch and cut at a slight angle. If you're cutting off larger branches then come out about ½ an inch. I'll have more information on my website, Garden Bite. Check out my Facebook page Garden Bite with Teri Knight and videos on my UrbanSprite page. Happy pruning!

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