The winter months do not mean there is nothing to do in the garden, and with March approaching, spring is only a matter of weeks away, meaning it’s the ideal time to assess your garden tools and get them ready for business for the better weather.
Preparing your garden for spring is an essential task to ensure that you have gorgeous blooms and tasty vegetables, but if your tools have been neglected, you will struggle to keep your garden in the best condition. Let’s have a look at a few tips to ensure everything is in good working order for when you need it.
The majority of garden tools serve one of two purposes – they either dig or they cut. You likely have shovels, hoes, rakes, pitchforks and handheld trowels, bulb planters and spades, and the first task is to make sure they are clean.
It’s best to find a sunny day where you can find a warm spot, even if it’s in there garden shed, to use your hose and not mind getting your hands wet. While the purpose of many tools is to dig in the dirt, you don’t want that dirt clinging to the tool. Wash off any caked dirt with a bucket of warm soapy water and a hard bristled brush, and leave them in a sunny spot to dry off.
After cleaning the business end of your tools, its; time to address the handles. Using sandpaper, gently sand the shaft of the handle, smoothing out any rough areas. Then use an old rag to apply mineral oil to the wood. Mineral oil is cheap and easily available, and a good staple to keep in your shed. Linseed oil is also good.
The business ends of digging tools need to be maintained, as well. The steel heads of shovels and spades can become pitted and dulled over time, and rust can build up. A quick application of oil will go a long way to keep the rust away, and sharpening edges will help shovels, edgers and spades perform better.
A handy tip for storing your tools is to use a bucket of treated sand. Simply fill a bucket with sand and pour some oil over the top, letting the oil penetrate the sand. When you plunge your shovel or trowel into the sand, the grittiness helps to clean the steel while the oil deters rust buildup.
Your cutting tools will likely include handheld pruners, snips, shears, loppers and scissors. Cleaning, disinfecting, oiling and sharpening are my primary focuses for these tools.
These tools may not get caked in dirt and soil like digging tools, but sap can become a problem. Clean off the sap to start with using rubbing alcohol or paint thinner and a clean rag. It might be an idea to spray all your cutting tools with Lysol to help rent the spread of fungus and disease from plant to plant.
Sharpening your pruners and other cutting tools can be done at home or turned over to a professional. Remember that maintaining a sharp edge on these tools is imperative to their performance in the garden. A shovel with a dull edge will still dig a hole, but a dull pair of pruners will cause sloppy cuts on tender plant tissue.
Taking the time to care for and maintain your garden tools is important if you want to make them last. All it takes is a few minutes of attention to bring a tool back to its peak condition. Come spring, your garden will thank you.
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