It is said that it is best to have the right tools for the right job. Garden tools are no exception. I have lost a few kitchen utensils to the garden because what we needed was lost or ruined. If you make an investment in gardening tools, it would only make sense to properly care for them. With summer ending, it is time to care for and store our gardening tools for the winter.
Eight Easy Steps for Tool Maintenance
1. When you are done using your tools always clean them. Keep a bristled brush by the outdoor faucet. Attach a zip tie to it and let it hang by the faucet during the gardening season. You will always have it hand when you need it. Brush off any dirt and hose off tools after each use.
2. Fill a bucket (large pot or 5-gallon bucket) with dry sand. Mix vegetable oil in the sand until it is moist. Other oils can be used, but remember, these tools are going to be put back into the soil that you will be growing your food in. So use an oil that you would not mind your food in. The oil gives a protective coating over the metal and prevents rusting.
3. You can keep the tools in the bucket for the gardening season, or all year long. If you want to hang them up on pegs for the winter, don’t let the metal part of the tools touch the ground, tools or other objects. Make sure there is not any water on the tools and they have a coat of oil on them before hanging.
4. If you keep the tools in the bucket during the winter, wipe down the blades with a cloth in the springtime. They are ready to go. The sand and bucket can be used for more than one season, as long as the sand is clean and moist.
5. Many tools have wood handles that need to be oiled. Linseed oil is a great oil to use. It is good for the wood and protects it from rot and splintering. Oil the handles more if you live in a dry climate or notice they are drying out.
6. To oil the handles, wipe a liberal amount over the wood. Let it soak for about 20 minutes and wipe with a clean cloth. When using linseed oil, lay out the cloth flat and let it dry completely. Linseed, along with other oils, can instantaneously combust if left on wadded up rags. 7. Create a tool maintenance schedule. Once a month check for splintering, dullness of blades, or failing parts. 8. Set aside a space for your tools. Hang pegs on the wall, know what tools you own, have a bucket of sand/oil nearby and a shelf to keep oils and rags on hand.
TIP- Boiled linseed oil is made from flax seeds. The only other ingredient added is the solvent that keeps the oil in liquid form. This solvent evaporates after being used.
1. To remove sap from tools use lighter fluid, rinse and dry.
2. Wipe pruning tool down with a disposable bleach wipe to prevent the spread of fungus and bacteria to other plants.
3. Use WD-40 to oil the springs and metal heads on tools.
TIP- Are your tools scattered everywhere? Are you running around the yard trying to find where you left your trowel? Here is a great set of gardening tools for yourself or as a gift for the gardener in your life. It has everything you need, all kept together in a storage tote.
Don’t throw away rusty tools
If you have tools with rust, not all is lost. Pour a mixture of 50% water and 50% vinegar in a bucket and allow to soak overnight. Take steel wool and with a circular motion, begin rubbing the rust off. When all the rust is removed, wash in soapy water, then rinse in clean water. Thoroughly dry with a cloth or by air. Rub the metal down with oil and hang. Another option is to invest in stainless steel tools. You still need to wash your tools, but it does make maintenance easier.
Just because gardening season is coming to an end, there are 24 ways to prepare for next years spring garden. With proper care and regular maintenance, your yard tool should last you for many seasons ahead.