Spring gardening season is rapidly approaching, and I know I’m ready to get outside and start digging in the dirt. Before we get too excited, now is the time to take stock of your gardening tools. Are they ready to take on another year of work, or are they looking like they deserve a well-earned retirement? Your garden tools are an investment, and if you’re not caring for them, they become more of a hindrance than a help.
Before you toss old tools, try to salvage them. If last year’s dirt is clinging to them, use a wire brush to knock it off. Most likely, there’s rust underneath that soil which you can remove by soaking the affected area in a one-to-one mixture of water and white vinegar overnight. Then, scrub the rusty area in a circular motion with steel wool, followed by rinsing it in soapy, and then plain water. To prevent rust from forming again, make sure that you dry the tool completely. Finally, give it a light treatment of mineral or linseed oil to make it good as new again.
If your shears or loppers are stuck or difficult to use, they could use similar care. Unscrew the nut that holds the blades together. Give everything a good scrub, do the vinegar soak, and clean it as above. Once all the rust and sap are gone, give it a linseed oil treatment and put it back together. Consider getting cutting tools sharpened. Loppers, shears, and pruners dull quickly and can tear branches, which can introduce disease. After every use, clean any sap and dirt off the blades and store them hanging with the blades pointed down. This ensures they dry completely and the blades stay sharp.
Clean and store your tools after every use. It’s tempting to leave them out, especially if you know you’re returning to them the next day, but doing that leaves them susceptible to moisture, getting lost, or being chopped by a mower. Fill a bucket with a mixture of sand and linseed or mineral oil. Plunging your digging tools into the sand helps keep edges sharp, and it’s a great place to keep all your digging tools in one place once they’re cleaned.
Your mower will also need attention. Check the air filter, and if it’s dirty or damaged, replace it. Right now is the best time to change the oil. Clean under the mower deck and get the blades sharpened. Compacted debris reduces how well your blades cut and sharp blades make quick work of cutting the grass. Clean out any leaves or debris from the engine to prevent damage or loss of power. Finally, check the battery and tire pressure.
Robin Williams had the best quote about spring. He said, “Spring is nature’s way of saying ‘Let’s party’.” Make sure you’re ready for the party, and if you have any questions, remember, at Randy’s Hardware, we don’t mind your questions at all!