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Safe Winter Storage of Pesticides and Fertilizers
As the fall gardening season slows to a halt, it's time to put up pesticides and fertilizers for the winter. A safe storage area for your gardening pesticides and fertilizers is important for many reasons, including protecting the environment and human health as well as maintaining the chemicals' effectiveness.
Use a winter storage area that is secure from children, animals and any other unwanted visitors. Good lighting is helpful for sorting and other tasks. Ventilation is important to keep volatile chemicals from contaminating other materials in storage, and for the health of the applicator. Separate the chemicals by type - herbicides, fungicides, insecticides and fertilizers - as additional insurance against contamination.
The storage area needs to be safe from dampness and possible flooding. Water damage and dampness can reduce the shelf life of many chemicals and can degrade metal and paper containers. Do not store chemicals on the floor. Temperature also can affect the shelf life of chemicals. Heat increases the volatility of stored chemicals, while freezes can cause some containers to rupture. Check the label to see if specific temperature ranges are needed for storage of specific chemicals.
Make sure your storage site allows for containment of spills or leaks. Store cleanup materials nearby or on site. Store flammable liquids outside living areas and away from any ignitable sources. Make sure chemicals and their containers are in good condition before storing them. The product label must be legible and attached to the chemical container. Never store excess fertilizer or pesticides in empty food containers. Do not store pesticides with or near food, medicine or cleaning products.
It is useful to keep an inventory of stored pesticides and fertilizers in order to plan purchases for next spring. Be sure to include the product name, active ingredient, date of purchase, volume and the date stored. One way to minimize storage hassles is to plan ahead and only buy pesticides and fertilizers for one season at a time. Sometimes the smaller container that seemed more expensive will save you money and time in the long run.