Gardening With Laurie: Using old gardening products

July 7, 2011 at 2:07 a.m.

Laurie Garretson

Laurie Garretson

By Laurie Garretson

One question I'm often asked is, "Will this product in my storage shed still be good after all this time?"

Many gardeners have shelves stocked with products purchased over the years. We might find insecticides, fertilizers, fungicides and maybe herbicides. Many times, we discover a product that has since lost its label or it's unreadable. It can be a real challenge guessing what something is just by the looks or smell of it. I think it's best not to take a chance on guessing, and just do away with the product.

Generally, you can expect a product to last at least two years or longer when it has been stored, handled and used under the proper conditions.

There are basically three main factors that will influence the shelf life of your products: moisture, temperature and ultraviolet light.

Products that come in bags or in the form of powders, dusts or a granular formulation, are most often affected by moisture. When using paper-bagged products, always be sure to carefully reseal the bag. If the bag is not lined with plastic, I would suggest that you place the paper bag in a plastic bag or glass container that can be tightly sealed. Be careful when taking products out of the container to not let any moisture get into the concentrate dry or liquid products.

Besides moisture, hot and cold temperatures can also affect the shelf life of products. We usually don't have to worry about excessively cold weather, but we do have extreme hot temperatures. Many times, garden products are stored in areas that are not air conditioned. High temperatures can cause different chemicals in a product to breakdown, rendering it less effective.

Products exposed to ultraviolet light can also become less effective. Many times you will notice ultraviolet light damage on an older product that has become cloudy or darker in color than it previously was when first purchased. Another sign of ultraviolet light damage affecting a product could be an odor, or the color of the product could be very different from before.

The best way to store all your garden products will be in a cool, dark location off the floor or ground. The storage area also should be moisture proof.

Always keep all garden products out of reach of children and pets. This includes all organic products as well. And as we've been told, always read and follow directions of any product you use.

Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.



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