Thoroughly clean your garden tools before winter. Source: gardencontainer.wndrs.com
To work effectively, garden tools should always be clean and well honed. Even a shovel doesn’t dig as well when its blade is blunt. And leaving tools dirty can lead to rust. So, get in the habit of cleaning and sharpening your tools at least once a year, normally before putting them away for the winter.
Start by Cleaning
Thoroughly rinse the tools that have been in contact with soil with a jet of water to remove most stuck-on soil, then wipe the entire surface with a cloth soaked in soapy water to remove other dirt. It may be necessary to scrub with a wire brush to remove truly stubborn clay.
Any tool with a sharp surface needs to be sharpened occasionally.
I recently tested a new sharpener (new for me at least) called the AnySharp Multi-Tool Sharpener In fact, it has two sharpeners. The first one sharpens knives, scissors and pruning shears, while the second is designed to clean and sharpen almost any other garden tool: shovel, lawn mower blade, trowel, hatchet, etc. Easy to handle, it takes only two or three strokes to get the job done.
If local retailers don’t offer this sharpener, you can order it from the manufacturer, AnySharp, for $18 US. It’s also available on Amazon.
To finish, apply oil—even vegetable oil!—to prevent rust from setting in over the winter. Just soak a cloth in oil and rub it lightly it over the metal surfaces. You can also spray the tool with oil.
Garden tools are not harmed by cold and can easily spend the winter in an outdoor shed.
So, a little cleaning and sharpening before putting your garden tools away for the winter will guarantee you years—sometimes decades!—of extra use: a little effort well worth investing!