Clean and Sharpen Garden Tools Before Winter

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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.

Then Sharpen

Any tool with a sharp surface needs to be sharpened occasionally.

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AnySharp Multi-Tool Sharpener. Source: www.hsn.com

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.

Protect

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Lightly coat the blade surface in oil. Source: ziraatyapma.blogspot.com

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.

Storage

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!

TLC for Garden Tools

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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!