Late winter is a great time to prune your fruit and nut trees. I’ve been working to develop a ‘food forest’ for many years (I’ll write up an article about food forests soon). When pruning your trees it really is a good idea to sanitize your tools as you move from tree to tree so you don’t pass any bacterial or fungal problems. Think of it like when treating people, you want a clean scalpel, or clean needles don’t you?
My orchard (food forest) tends to be prone to fire blight. And in that case I will clean my tools between each cut to ensure I don’t infect a different part of the same tree.
A quick note; my rabbits absolutely love to eat the bark and young branches from my pruning work. It is a major source of food for them this time of year.
To clean my tools, I normally use a solution of 1 part chlorine bleach to 10 parts water. I put that solution in a bucket and regularly dip my pruning shears and loppers into the bucket, swishing them around a bit for a simple and easy way to clean and sanitize them.
Chlorine is a pretty harsh chemical, and may not always be available in a grid-down situation. What else could I use to disinfect my tools? I called around to several of my herbalist friends and the easiest, DIY solution is to use home made vinegar as a disinfectant.
Petty cool, huh? That’s what I thought too. So I’ll finish my pruning this year using a solution of vinegar and water. My vinegars don’t tend to be that strong, so I’ll probably do a 1 to 4 ratio of vinegar to water, or perhaps even lower.
There are so many uses for vinegar, I’ll be writing more as I find myself using it. Stay tuned! Do you have a method for cleaning your tools that doesn’t involve going to the store to buy anything? do you have a favorite use for vinegar? I read all the comments and love to read what you write.
Marjory Wildcraft is an Expedition Leader and Bioneer Blogger with The [Grow] Network, which is an online community that recognizes the wisdom of “homegrown food on every table.” Marjory has been featured as an expert on sustainable living by National Geographic, she is a speaker at Mother Earth News fairs, and is a returning guest on Coast to Coast AM. She is an author of several books, but is best known for her “Grow Your Own Groceries” video series, which is used by more than 300,000 homesteaders, survivalists, universities, and missionary organizations around the world.