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Your tool shed
The place where you store tools and supplies is probably the least glamorous part of your farm, but getting it organized can save time and money during the busy season.
Going for a tool and finding it missing is both frustrating and time wasting. If you have more than one person working on your farm, you need a clearly designated place for tools and a rule that every tool gets put away when its work is done.
One of the best systems for organizing tools is a wall covered with pegboards, either the common wood pegboard or newer metal pegboards. You will find a huge assortment of hardware to hold everything imaginable on your pegboard. Some people label the pegboard or even draw tool outlines so they can tell at a glance where a tool belongs.
Besides the obvious hooks for tools such as hoes and spades, you can add small baskets to hold the stuff you often need when working with those tools. For example, hang a knife on the pegboard and a bucket beneath it and you’re more likely to scrape the soil off a tool before you hang it up. Or put a sharpening stone next to a hoe, so you won’t forget to touch up the blade before you take it outside.
Plastic buckets are a free solution to the problem of where to store all the little pieces, such as connectors for drip irrigation, hose nozzles, greenhouse repair tape, screws, gloves, and so forth. Get a permanent nursery marker and write the contents of the bucket on the side so you don’t have to waste time rooting around looking for things.
Big plastic totes with sealing lids to keep out rodents and insects are essential for protecting food-contact items such as plastic bags and twist-ties. They can also be used for pest control products and fertilizers that need to be protected from moisture. However, if you have young children around the farm, you should get a locking cabinet for pest controls and other toxic materials.
If your shed is a cluttered, unpleasant space, figure out what you can do to make it more inviting. Lighting is important. If you don’t have good daylight in your structure, or if you work at night, you need ample lights. ATTRA has a recently updated publication on farm lighting http://www.attra.org/attra-pub/summaries/summary.php?pub=341 that will help you choose the most energy-efficient fixtures for the job.
A heater, fan, radio, doormats: these are all items that will make you want to linger long enough to keep your tools and supplies clean and ready for the next job.
Reprinted from JSS Advantage November 2010