With spring right around the corner, gardeners are starting to think about the list of tasks they have in store. One of these tasks is often overlooked by many of us, however, it is arguably one of the most important. If you, like most people, bash the dirt off your tools at the end of the summer and sling them in the garage or shed for the colder months, then now might be a good time to learn how to take proper care of your gardening equipment. Not only will this help to keep them maintained but it will also mean you are less likely to have to replace them at some point.
As with most things, if you do not take the time to take care of your gardening tools properly, they will not last for very long. But, don’t fret – it doesn’t have to take very long to get your tools into good shape. Just a few minutes of care can ensure that your tools last for a much longer period of time.
A good place to start is the handles. Rakes, hoes, spades and forks are all likely to have wooden handles, which ideally need to be sanded at least once a year. Start by cleaning the dirt and grime from the handle, let them dry and then use a sheet of fine sandpaper to lightly sand the handle. This will prevent you from getting splinters and allow you to properly inspect the wood for splits. Afterwards, rub a good quality linseed oil into the handle so that it is thoroughly saturated, this will prevent the wood from drying out during the winter and splitting the next time you use it.
The next step is to inspect your tools for rust. Use a wire brush to remove any dirt and rust, then rinse the tool with water to ensure that it is clean. Then take some vegetable oil and rub it into the surface of the metal, this will protect it and prevent it from rusting.
A gardening tool is only as good as its sharp edges, so take some time to sharpen your tools before you put them away. Use a metal file to sharpen hoes, spades, and trowels so that they are ready to go next time you want to use them. Use a whetstone to sharpen pruning equipment and keep it in top condition.