Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

TLC for Garden Tools

Dirty, rusty, dull tools make gardening more difficult.

To be effective and long-lasting, a gardening tool should remain clean and sharp. Even a shovel doesn’t dig as well when its blade is dull. And when rust sets in, it does more than reduce the tool’s useful life, it also increases friction, so using it also requires more effort. In an ideal world, therefore, you would carefully clean every tool after each use and apply a coat of rust-proofing, while the sharpening at least once a year.

But it’s a bit unrealistic to think that the average gardener will do that. Often at the end of a gardening session, you’re burned out and it’s all you can do to take the time to properly hang your garden tools up, much less cleaning and oiling them. But if there was a way to make cleaning extra easy…

20150808AWell, there is. Here is a simple trick to sharpen and protect tools while cleaning them and to do so each time you use them. Simply fill a bucket with construction sand (not sand with road salt!) and pour in 400-500 ml of vegetable oil. Mix well and place the bucket just inside your tool shed. Now, every time you enter to put a tool away, plunge the blade into this mix 4 or 5 times. Yep, even tools as different as a shovel and pruning shears. The gritty sand will sharpen and polish the tool while removing rust and dirt and the oil will cover the blade with a protective layer that prevents rust.

Presto! Against a minimal effort, your tools will always be in top shape!

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

2 comments on “TLC for Garden Tools

  1. Maria Julieta Radicic Garbin

    Doesn’t the vegetable oil get rancid after some time?

Leave a Reply to Maria Julieta Radicic Garbin Cancel reply

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