Gardening season is here, and the experience can be a pleasure or a pain depending on the quality and care of your tools. While the last thing on your mind after a long day in the sun working on your garden is taking care of your tools, there are some simple routines you can use to make sure your equipment is good to go the next time you reach for them.
Gunk, moisture, and dullness are the biggest enemies to a healthy garden tool collection, so here’s how to address the biggest offenders:
1. Rinse, scrub, and dry. You need to knock the soil off the tools and work it out of the hinges. Tapping the tools to break the big clumps loose is a good idea, but you don’t want to chip the edges. Swing by the garden hose and rinse the tools. It might even be worth keeping a rigid-bristle brush on a hook near your hose to make the process easier. With the tools clean, dry them completely with a clean cloth or towel.
2. Keep oiled sand handy. Mix about 3/4 of a quart of linseed or other mineral oil with 5-gallon bucket of sand. Linseed oil is a good choice as it can be good for wood handles, too. Push the blades of the tools into the oiled sand. It’ll protect and condition the metal. While some people advise you use motor oil, consider than this will introduce some residual motor oil into your garden. Who wants that? Stick with a mineral oil.
3. Sharpen regularly. A dull tool is a hazardous tool. Shovels, hoes, shears, pruners, and anything with a cutting edge should be periodically revived. Oil the blade and using a whetstone or carbide sharpener work the tool at a 20-degree angle until it is sharp again.
4. Store tools properly. Moisture is a killer, and tools left leaning on walls or concrete floors will be exposed to condensation and humidity. Ideally, hang your tools on pegs indoors to eliminate most of the harmful exposure.
5. Inspect springs and hinges. Tools will wear out over time, and you don’t want to be surprised by a snapped spring or loosening hinge. During your sharpening routine, take the time to check each tools’ most probable failure point. Tighten what needs tightening, replace broken parts, or replace the tool as needed.
Hopefully these tips will keep you gardening happily through the season. If you’re looking for a home with great property for starting a new garden, let’s talk! I am happy to help you find a home ready for your next agricultural masterpiece.