Learn Quick Tips for Maintaining Your Gardening Tools

Some people will tell you that it takes a few simple gardening tools to be able to have an amazing, productive, and weed-free garden. That is a piece of great advice because you can achieve nothing if you lack the right trade devices. Many reputable online companies are selling a variety of gardening tools because they appreciate the fact that your yard cannot thrive without them. Check out www.nazflora.org for some o the tools that gardeners are dreaming of owning, but remember to learn to make them highly efficient.

Buying the right tools is the first step to your gardening success. However, there is no better way you can protect your investment and yourself and reduce the spread of weed seed and diseases around your garden other than using the tried-and-tested methods. Read on for these incredible tips.

Clean Always After Use

Some gardeners think this is too much work, but what they propose is just a dangerous habit. You do not have to take a lot of time cleaning your tools daily. But save some time for it. This can be as easy as wiping the sap off the machines or hosing down your shovel. It can also be just wiping off all the moisture.

Keep some rags, a stuff brush, or steel wool for this purpose. Besides, ensure they are easily reachable. The most convenient place here some smart gardeners keep these cleaning items is the same room or space where the gardening gear lies. This way, the process of cleaning their tools takes a short time and seems highly bearable. 

Store in Secure Place

When you do not store your gardening tools well, you will pay heavily in many ways. Unreliable people can misuse them or steal them. You also expose them to disease-causing pathogens in your sounding. 

Rust can also take over and leave you stranded the next day you want to use them. Most gardening tools are made of iron and other metals that can rust. This firm of corrosion is highly dangerous because it eats away your devices and makes them scraps that can help you to achieve nothing. As such, when you are done with them for the day, ensure they are securely stored in a dry place. Given that you have to remove the moisture on your tools during the cleaning process, if you do the same in the storage space, you will correctly prevent this form of corruption. 

If you live in a too humid climate, consider storing them inside containers that do not allow oxygen inside. Or, apply some oil on their surface. Since rust cannot take place in Oxygen-free places, you will still be assured of their security despite the condition of the weather. 

Oil the Moving Parts Occasionally

The hard-working gardening tools, such as pruning shears, have moving parts that need to be oiled frequently. Through this, you will reap many benefits. These moving parts will not rust. Moreover, the tools will operate efficiently without friction. 

For you to properly oil your tools, use a stiff brush to loosen the dirt first. After that, wash the tools with warm, soapy water and wipe off the moisture. Consequently, apply a few drops to the joint and clean away the excess lubricating oil. 

Give Occasional Quick Sharpening

Some of your gardening tools cannot serve you well if they are blunt. While you are free to sharpen them at any time, it is a great idea to set aside a particular time of the year when you have to attend to them irrespective of their condition. 

If you are not able to do this alone, ask your local tool shop or gardening center that offers this service to do it for you. But it is not a difficult task, and you can save a lot of money by learning this simple art. It only takes seconds and requires no expertise. However, if you hire someone to do it for you, they will charge you some good money. Whichever option you prefer, ensure your tools are adequately sharpened at the right time to avoid any possible future regrets.

Protect Wooden Handles

As you sharpen some of the tools, remember to take care of the wooden handles of your forks, spades, loppers, and others that require this service. Don’t wait until they are no more. Sand smooth or replace them whenever necessary. 

Final Thoughts

Once you have bought the best gardening tools that you can afford, take good care of them. Have a date when you have to assess their suitability and take the right action. At the same time, whenever you notice a small problem, resolve it before you continue using the faulty gardening tools. This way, you will protect your investment, protect your own life, and be a successful gardener within no time.



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Personal Loans for Sporting Equipment

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Education Loan

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Massachusetts Baseball, BBFF, and Infographics

My best friend lives in Massachusetts, and though he’s not around on a daily basis, his influence is tremendous.

Even from a distance, he’s quite the enabler and has been trafficking baseball loot to me for years.

He likes to send packages stuffed with baseball cards, and I squeal with delight when I open the mailbox to find an otherwise nondescript yellow envelope with his hand-drawn version of the MLB logo on the outside of the package.

Recently, one of those envelopes contained a disc filled with photos that chronicle the past three seasons of baseball, which I scrolled in great delight as I saw images of Varitek blocking home plate, Josh Spence in a Yoda backpack, and that kid from Philadelphia who got tased.

We’ve sent each other Starting Lineup figures, talked about statistics, and enjoyed ice cream in baseball helmets at Fenway and US Cellular on our yearly vacation to see each other (it’s his turn to visit, don’t think I’ve forgotten).

Meet Fudgy, y’ all.


The ultimate gift that my BBFF (baseball best friend forever) has sent was a hand-made T-shirt with the New Bedford Bay Sox logo on it. This ringer tee features a whale (which we’ve nicknamed Fudgy) swinging a bat, which is arguably the cutest thing I have ever seen.

After Fudgy arrived in the mail, I started to pay more attention to my BBFF’s escapades in minor league and independent league baseball in Massachusetts, which seemed to be frequent and involved teams I had never heard of.


I’d get picture-texts with captions that did not make a ton of sense because I was not aware there were so many baseball options in one state.

“Headed to a Paw Sox game!”

“Enjoying a beer with the Bay Sox!”

“Beautiful night for a Brockton Rox game!”

“Cape Cod League game tonight!”

After half a dozen of these text messages, I innocently made the comment that it seemed that Massachusetts had a LOT of baseballs.

I mean, Chicago has a lot of baseballs… after all, we have two major league teams and some other teams in the distant suburbs (which admittedly I have never attended because the suburbs are ‘far away’ as I like to describe them).

But as the texts increased, I started to think he was messing with me.

The Brewster Whitecaps? Bourne Braves? Yeah, sure. Those are real teams.

North Adams Steeple Cats? What the hell is a Steeple Cat*?

And when I thought he was finished, he just kept going, raising my suspicion that either these teams were made up or that or that every square inch of Massachusetts was actually covered by baseball fields.

Perhaps the thing I love most about my BBFF is his attention to detail.  If you ask him a question, he’s going to make sure that your question has been thoroughly answered through a detailed explanation, perhaps a link to supplemental reading, and in this case… a carefully crafted infographic.

I love infographics.  Every picture tells a story, but especially when you include words. Since I was doubting that this much baseball actually existed in Massachusetts, the BBFF made this incredibly helpful infographic that resulted in just one conclusion: there is, in fact, an (expletive deleted)-ton** of baseball in Massachusetts.

This infographic captures the precise location of all of the baseball teams in the state, including their league affiliation, their founding date, and most importantly: their logo/mascot. The pennants at the bottom also indicate their accolades as league champions, which surely makes Massachusetts the winningest state in terms of baseball championships.

I’ve taken this infographic as a bit of a challenge: I’d like to attend a game of every team in Massachusetts, including the ones that I am still not sure to exist (Falmouth Commodores? Does Lionel Richie play there?).

This trip would not be just for posterity, but I’m sure it’d be a great adventure for me and the BBFF.

Consider it officially a part of the baseball bucket list, Nick.

* I googled this, and apparently a Steeple Cat is a cartoon cat that looks like an elder statesman holding a baseball bat. Seriously, I still have no idea what a Steeple Cat is, and I’m not sure if it’s one word or two words. I also don’t know if Cat is capitalized or not.

 ** This is an inexact measurement, containing a four-letter word starting with ‘S’ that is often used when one wants to express the fact that there is indeed a lot of something. i.e. “there are an (expletive deleted)-ton of asterisked words in this article…perhaps you should write for Grantland.”

The Jimmy Fund: Give Them Your Money

My cousin Mandi had never been to Boston before, and it’s likely that she’d never chosen to vacation there.

She grew up in Richmond, Virginia, married her high school sweetheart, and was very content there raising her two children. Traveling the world (or even the eastern seaboard) was never a priority for her and she felt comfortable at her home in the country.

So, when I got the call to meet them in Boston two years ago, I was rather surprised. Without hesitation, I rearranged my schedule (with just two days notice) to meet them in Boston for the week.

I wish I could say the trip was a spur of the moment decision for leisure, but it was a trip of last resort. With her cancer progressing, the doctors in Richmond told her there was little they could do for her anymore, but as a mother (1-year-old daughter, 4-year-old son) that answer wasn’t acceptable to her.

Mandi was a fighter long before she found out she had cancer, and she viewed her illness as just another roadblock she’d have to get around to live the life she’d always dreamed of.  As a woman with faith in God, she knew that she and her children would be taken care of regardless of the outcome, and continued to battle.

When it was suggested that Mandi goes to Boston to meet with specialists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, she scheduled the appointment and took the Amtrak from Richmond to Boston with her husband and young children, since she was not allowed to fly.

I had a great time at the New England Aquarium, chasing the penguins with her daughter, Cameron. We went on a duck boat tour, and I kept blowing my duck caller to make her son Eddie laugh, much to the chagrin of others on the boat. I took them on their first cab ride to see Fenway Park, and I’m pretty sure the lobster rolls we ate were their first.

Later in the week, Mandi went to meet with doctors at Dana-Farber.

I wish I had better news about the outcome of the meeting at Dana-Farber, but after a couple of days of testing, the doctors told her there was nothing they could do. The news was defeating, but the experience and care from the doctors and nurses at Dana-Farber was exceptional. They realize the sensitivity of the news they were delivering and treated her with respect and care. For that, I’m grateful.

After more treatment in Richmond and treatments in Philadelphia, my cousin returned home and continued to pray and she continued to live her life the best way she knew how—raising her two young children, teaching them all of the lessons they’d need in the future in a short time.

When she died on March 1st  of this year, I was shocked. She had been doing better in the weeks preceding her death, but I was relieved that her struggle was finally over. I was fortunate this week to make the trip to Richmond to see her husband and children, who are now 3 and 6.

Cee, Cameron, and Mr. Bear

Cee, Cameron, and Mr. Bear

These children are pieces of their mother. They are just as innocent, with the same blue eyes, blonde hair, and giant smiles. They are faithful and polite, and full of life and energy, just as I remember their mother. While they are adjusting to life without her, it’s a shame when any child has to grow up without a parent.

The moral of the story? Cancer sucks.

I’ve lost my grandfather, my aunt, and my cousin to cancer in the last six years. Both of my parents are cancer survivors. I’ve watched friends, family, and coworkers struggle with the illness and it never gets easier…but we can’t give up hope on making a difference in the lives of those who are affected by this illness.

The Jimmy Fund, since its founding in 1948, has supported the fight against cancer in children and adults at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, helping to raise the chances of survival for cancer patients around the world.

The Red Sox partnered with the Jimmy Fund ten years ago and have done a telethon each year to raise money for Dana-Farber, and the stories of the children and adults who have undergone treatment there are extraordinary—and many are thriving because of donations from ordinary people who want to make a difference.

Today’s the last day of the telethon, so if you can find a bit to spare, I would personally appreciate you considering a donation. If you can’t donate now, they accept donations any time. I’ll continue to make a donation every year in honor of my cousin…because even though it was too late for her to receive treatments, I know the dollars that I donate could change the lives of others, and there’s no memorial in Mandi’s honor better than that.

The Summer Of (Not) Dating

I gave up dating for the summer.

This was a self-imposed “No-Dating” rule, and as someone who spent the better part of three years as a serial dater, this decision was more difficult than it sounds.

I never considered my dating life as busy, but I realized that every time I went out with girlfriends they would ask about how the dating life was going, and I’d have a handful of stories to recount—most of them terrible.

Somehow I had developed the idea that dating, and dating often, was just what single people did. Single people that did not go out and have drinks with members of the opposite sex at least once a week just seemed odd to me.

What were they doing with all of their free time?

But after looking back on the past three years of dating, short-relationships, and heartbreak, I felt it important to go back to square one: no dating for the summer.

And when I said no dating, I meant it.

There wasn’t to be any interaction that could be confused for dating. No getting drinks with a kind gentleman from Twitter that I had a crush on. No meeting men at my favorite bar. No getting coffee with the classmate I’d been interested in throughout my whole graduate program. And absolutely no surfing Match.com.

And surprisingly, I only broke the “No-Dating” rule once. And honestly? I didn’t miss it.

By shifting the attention from other people back to myself, the results were tremendous. When I embarked on this dating-free journey my friend Sarah gave me a piece of advice that became the mantra for the summer: If there’s no one there to spoil you, spoil yourself.

…and spoil myself I did.

The summer’s mission was to see how much happiness I could create for myself (and those around me) and I would consider that mission accomplished. Since I spent most of the summer hesitant to write, here are the highlights from the Date-Free summer.

The City: I started this summer realizing that it could very well be the last summer that I ever spent in Chicago. With the completion of school and the desire to relocate, the prospect of never living within walking distance of all of the places and sites I love struck a sense of urgency in me to do and see everything.

  • I went to the remaining museums I had not seen.
  • I spent evenings down at the Harbor with Lola watching the sailboats.
  • I finally went to Kuma’s for one of those obscenely large (and delicious) burgers.
  • I stayed out until 4 am one night, just to go to Carol’s.
  • I walked around my favorite neighborhood and chased tennis balls in Welles Park with my dog.
  • I had cupcakes twice from my favorite cupcake place. And while those calories might be regrettable, there’s something about enjoying every cupcake like it could be your last.

School: I completed the last two classes of my graduate school program. Since I had a bit more free time than usual (see: no dating) I really dove into my final semester and enjoyed it to the fullest. I completed the most in-depth research project of my educational career, something I’d spent three semesters working to complete. Having a beer with my classmates overlooking the Art Institute the night we handed in our final projects is easily the proudest moment of the summer.

Traveling: It’s a bit difficult to travel on a shoestring graduate student budget, so this became the summer of road trips.

  • I saw the Black Keys in Milwaukee.
  • I surprised a friend in Indianapolis by showing up for her birthday party.
  • I visited family in Michigan.
  • I spent one impressive summer evening on a beach in Indiana (I didn’t know they had beaches, either) with a flask of bourbon and one of the best girlfriends.
  • I drove the 12 hours to Washington, DC to see my sister for two weeks.
  • I went to Boston, which was one of my favorite weekends of the summer.

While some of those trips involved other people, some of them did not. There’s something to be said for vacationing alone, and I think embracing being alone is something that most of us are not capable of doing.

But this time, something was different for me.

The countless hours in the car with my own playlists were perfect. No one to tell me to turn it down or stop singing, I put the accelerator to the floor and sang like Mick Jagger for hours on end.  And the prospect of walking the streets of Boston agenda less (and alone) brought a genuine smile to my face, as I ambled along Newbury Street. It was in the moment that I sat on the cobblestone patio of a small coffee shop sipping a café au lait that I realized what it meant to truly embrace happiness in solitude.

Baseball: Easily the best part of the summer free of dating was the baseball. And there was a lot of it.

It’s amazing for someone who writes as much as I do, that I’ve never developed much of a memory for things. I put my journaling skills to good use this summer in an attempt to remember more baseball. Along with the scorebook I use at every game, I kept another notebook in which I logged all of the games I attended. This notebook has a pocket, so I kept all of my ticket stubs and random baseball cards I’d collected along the way in there.

29 games at 11 different ballparks*

And having the opportunity to see so many games this year has really helped evolve my love of the game. Going alone allowed me to focus on keeping score, studying pitchers, and getting back to the fundamentals. Being there gives you the time and the angles to study the shift and the fundamentals of the game that you can’t always see on TV.

When I watch a game at home, my tendency is to focus on things like sabermetrics and the pitch(fx), but at the game, the focus becomes simpler– like did the right fielder remember to back up the throw to first?

While I’m not sure I will ever have the opportunity to see this much baseball again in the future, I will embrace this summer of baseball as one of my greatest memories of this stage of my life.

I’ve been hesitant to do any writing lately, but when I woke up this morning to 61 degrees and the beginnings of that fall smell, I knew it was probably time to reflect on the summer and look forward to all of the changes that come with this fall for me.

In two weeks my time in Chicago will be over. Just in time for fall, I’m relocating to a place where I can appreciate the leaves changing, cider mills, and eat those delicious apple cider donuts.

I am trading the city noises of trains and sirens blaring for a quiet porch that backs up to a completely silent field (I plan to listen to the playoffs on the radio from this spot).

And I’ll spend the fall trying to figure out what changes I need to accomplish by the following summer…because it seems like my life will be dramatically different by then.

*This number does not include spring training games.

Never Got the Timing Right

I came in second place in a basketball skills challenge in fourth grade. While I don’t remember a lot of the specifics, I still have the plaque that was presented to me by the administrator of the Nike basketball camp in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It’s my first recollection of ever coming in second place at anything sports related that was based on individual skills. I prided myself on being an accurate and precise Center, practicing hundreds of shots a day, including left-handed layups. My dad always told me that if I wanted to be the best basketball player in the leagues, I hard to learn to shoot left-handed. And for hours at a time, I’d plant my feet firmly on our concrete driveway, and practice with my right hand tucked into my pocket so I couldn’t cheat.

And yet, I came in second.

I had every intention of taking the day off of work on July 23rd, 2009. I requested the day off in the usual way–put it on the shared calendar, emailed my boss to let them know I would be gone that day. And I spent the morning catching up on projects, sipping coffee on my back porch while I stole wifi from my neighbor who always kept the network unprotected. The guy I was dating showed up with lunch, roses, and tickets to that afternoon’s White Sox game (which for future reference, is the fastest way to most girls’ hearts). And just as we approached the train to go to the game, my boss called to say there was a major issue with a client that I needed to return to the office and address. I regrettably sent the boy to the baseball game by himself.

On July 23rd, 2009, Mark Buehrle threw a perfect game…and I missed it.

I am sure everyone has these stories of being a day late and a dollar short, and that mine aren’t unique. I am also sure everyone has stories where things worked out exactly as they should have, or were aided by the mysterious karma of the universe–somehow making things better. But for me, it seems that I have continued to live my life as a series of miscues where I never seem to get the timing right.

I have only told one person I was in love with them in the last three years. It turns out that he loved me as well, but he just loved his fiancee (I didn’t know about her) a little bit more. And had it not been for the fact that she was pregnant with his child, he would have considered leaving her for me (his words, not mine) as though it was some sort of consolation for being wonderful, but just late and infertile to the party.

When I told my boss in Louisville that I was leaving my ex-boyfriend, and subsequently leaving the area, she laughed. Not because the situation was funny, but because that day she has finally been given the approval to give me a long-anticipated (and much-deserved) promotion. And while I suppose I could have stayed, the truck was already booked, the boxes were packed, and the memories of a city that were the first place that felt like home (partly for a love of the city, and partly for the person I’d lived there with) made it just too unbearable to stay.

Three years later, deciding to leave Chicago never seemed like a mistake. In fact, it was well-calculated, detailed, and things did fall into place with relative ease. The first person that responded to my craigslist ad about my apartment is the person who ultimately rented it. When I asked my parents if I could move in with them while I searched for a new job, I did not even finish my sentence before they both said ‘yes.’

And my going away party happened much like my Chicago experience began–intoxicated, surrounded by friends, and hopeful that the one person I wanted to notice me since I had arrived three years earlier would finally seize the opportunity to feel the same way I did.

But as smooth as the transition out of Chicago was, my duration in Michigan was the complete opposite.

When we unloaded the moving truck, everything was put into the garage. Pillows, furniture, baseball cards: all stacked in boxes, all in the garage. Lola sat in her favorite chair in the garage in near-silent protest as everything was unloaded and haphazardly placed on those wire plastic shelves, growling when anyone would walk closer to her. And while I just took the essentials inside, not knowing how long I would be there, I got that answer very quickly.

The night after I arrived, I went out for drinks with a man who is easily the most interesting and engaging had dated (or met) in a long time, possibly ever. As singles girls are wont to do, I have a long list of things I’d ideally like in a man because when it is all in the fantasy stages, we have every right, an obligation even, to shoot for the moon. This man had all of them, down to the fact that he handed me the remote and told me that he wanted *me* to have it, so I could flip back and forth to both playoffs games. And when he woke me up hours after I had fallen asleep with my head on his shoulder, instead of telling me he was tired and I should leave, he kissed my forehead and said, “Leave? You just got here. Stay awhile. Stay forever, if you’d like.”

And the moment he uttered those words, I knew I would get the job.

The job was exactly what I was looking for in a post-graduate position. It was presented as a job that could use my abilities in analysis and programmatic design on a program that really makes a difference in people’s lives. From the first time I read the job posting, it seemed like an amazing opportunity, one that someone with my experience and education would be lucky to land–and yet, they were contacting me, of all their applicants, for interviews. And while I had been nervous on all of the phone interviews, after the night of bourbon, baseball, and bearded company, I knew there was no reason to be nervous–because the timing has a way of offering us glimpses at things we could have, if only the situation were different.

When I told my best friend I had met a boy AND had a job interview, he remarked, “Oh, not only will the company offer you a job, they will make you Vice President.”

In less than a week, I had three phone interviews, a trip to DC to meet with the decision-makers, and an offer letter in hands less than 24 hours later. Sometimes, life is funny.

Even though I accepted the position, I still had a desire to see the guy again. When I texted him to tell him I accepted the offer, he was genuinely happy for me, though expressed his disappointment that I would be leaving so soon (24 days, to be exact) after we had met. Instead of sulking,  we made the best of the situation. And though our busy schedules only allowed us to have four (amazing) dates, we cursed the time we could not spend together because of other obligations but embraced each moment we could spend together. We had dinner. We stayed up until sunrise talking. I saw his band play at this incredibly tacky college bar, where he embarrassed me in front of everyone by telling them all he thought I was beautiful over the PA system between songs.

And while all of my belongings remain in my parents’ garage, with Lola nearby to guard them until I find a place to live here, I am now living 547 miles away on a leather-sectional in my sister’s living room. There is a real urgency to get settled in Washington, DC, not just because I am living out of Rubbermaid containers and sleeping on a sofa in a mid-rise that has fire-alarm issues and too much train noise, but because no matter how difficult timing, missed opportunities, and what-could-have-been weigh on my mind, embracing the present seems like the only option.

I left earlier in the morning on Saturday to start my drive to DC much earlier than I had originally anticipated, so when he texted to tell me goodbye and travel safely, I was already in the mountains of Pennsylvania, trapped in a heavy snow and ice storm. Talk about timing.