If only we had a dollar for every time someone used the old truism that, “A stitch in time saves nine,” as it is so true. And guess what, it is applicable to cleaning garden tools as it is to so many other facets of our lives. The best thing you can do to save yourself time when doing this chore is to clean your tools as soon as you have finished using them as it is quicker and easier than waiting for the dirt and grime to build up.
A PLACE TO STORE
It is imperative that you have a place for storing your tools in between use.
A plastic shed is the perfect place for this as this is one of its purposes – storage of gardening tools. It will keep them safe from the elements which are a tool’s worst enemy and keep them safely away from children. There are various types of plastic tool racks - hanging, corner, or a tool block that will perfectly suit your storage purposes.
Smaller gardening tools can be stored in a tool box or even a deck box.
It is best to do your initial cleaning outdoors as this is usually a dirty task.
Remove loose dirt and soil by tapping the tools clean. Then scrub away more persistent dirt with a stiff-bristled wire brush. You may have to wash or even soak the tools and then scrub them for hard to remove dirt. Rinse with clean water once all the dirt has been removed.
Never store wet tools. Allow them to drip dry and then wipe with a clean, dry cloth. This will ensure they do not rust.
Once your tools are clean and dry, they need to be oiled – not just the metal parts but also the wooden.
If a metal part is not sharp it is more difficult to use and not as safe. Ensure metal parts are sharp after cleaning but before oiling. If they are not, either sharpen yourself with a file or whet stone, or pay to have it done professionally. If the blade is beyond repair, you need to buy a new one.
When gardening, it is the wooden tool handles with which you come into most contact. Therefore they must be smooth and splinter free as well as clean.
Always remove sap from handles with an appropriate remover. Use medium-grained sandpaper to smooth any rough spots on the handles. Apply linseed oil on wooden handles to ensure they do not dry out and remain smooth.
Gardening tools are expensive, yet when well maintained can last for years. Even if you are not a professional gardener, when in the garden, they are the tools of your trade. Care for them and they will ensure years of fun and safe gardening.