Gardening tools, like any other tool, should be given proper care after each use. Proper care will ensure:
- Your investment in the tool is maximized.
- The tool will be ready to use the next time it is needed.
- The tool last for a longer amount of time.
- If returned to a proper storage location, you won’t need to search for the tool when needed.
- The sharpness and safety of the tool will be maintained.
Large acreage farmers know the importance of properly maintaining the tools and instruments of their trade. Discs, plows and other farming implements are regularly cleaned, greased, and oiled. The same steps and disciplines apply to the small space gardening enthusiast.
What is the proper way to maintain your gardening tools?
- Remove all dirt and grime from the tool. This may require brushing down with a stiff bristled brush. If dirt and soil is caked on the tool, immerse the tool in a bucket of water for a few minutes to loosen then scrub again with a brush and rag.
- Thoroughly dry any tool that has been exposed to water.
- Remove any rust by scouring with steel wool. Be sure to wear protective gloves and eye wear.
- Sharpen tools as necessary by drawing a file designed for this purpose repeatedly against the edge at a 45 degree angle.
- Inspect wooden handles for splinters or cracks. Lightly sand handles as necessary and wipe off any excess dust. Lightly coat the wooden handles with linseed oil or a type of paste wax.
- Metal surfaces of tools should be lightly coated with oil. This can be done by spraying lubricating oil on the surface. Another easy way to do this is to have a 5 gallon bucket of sand to which 2 quarts of vegetable oil has been added and thoroughly mixed. Thrusting the metal parts of the tool into this sand mixture will provide a light coating that will help prevent rust. Some gardeners use motor oil rather than vegetable oil.
- Keep your tools in a dry environment and store them in a place designated for your gardening tools and they will be at your disposal then next time you need to venture into your gardening haven.