Cleaning and Storing Garden Tools
Digging tools and pruners require regular cleaning and adequate storage to keep blades sharp and prevent rust.
Sharp blades ensure cleaner cuts when pruning and trimming. Pruners need frequent sharpening, as pruning soon blunts the blade. Good-quality models are easy to take apart, which makes cleaning and sharpening easier, and allows a damaged blade to be replaced.
Knives are often better than pruners for delicate jobs, and should be cleaned, oiled, and sharpened in the same way. Keep a pocket-sized sharpening steel ready to sharpen your blade as you work. Use a special tool or a metal file to sharpen shears. Sharpen only the beveled cutting edge, and tighten the screw holding the blades together.
Cleaning and Disinfecting Garden Tools
Disinfecting tools — especially pruners — after each use also prevents the spread of plant diseases. Dip or wipe the tools thoroughly with a 1-5 solution of chlorine bleach or Lysol. Bleach-free wipes are another good option, as well as rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.
- To clean pruner blades, spray on some lubricant or household cleaner to remove any dirt and sap, and then wipe it off with a tissue. For dried-on sap, use a scourer or fine-grade steel wool and metal polish.
- Smear lubricant or light oil onto the bevel-edged blade and lightly rub it off with a nylon scourer or fine-grade steel wool. This helps prevent rusting and keeps the blade smooth between sharpenings.
- Sharpen the blade with an oilstone or a diamond sharpening tool. Hold it at the same angle as the beveled edge and draw it across the edge. Gently rub the flat side of the blade to remove any burrs, and then oil the blades.
Caring for Cultivation Tools
The majority of digging tools are made from either carbon steel or stainless steel. In order to prevent carbon steel from rusting, it is important to clean and oil your tools regularly. Carbon steel Dutch hoes and spades will slide through soil more easily if you sharpen them occasionally. Some tools have a nonstick coating, but this may eventually wear off. Although stainless steel tools are a bit more expensive, they are worth the money; they are long-lasting, do not rust, and make digging easier, because they cut through the soil cleanly and it does not stick to the blade. All metal tools, including spades, forks, hand trowels, and rakes, need cleaning after use, before you put them away. Brush off any soil, wash, and dry thoroughly.
Storing Your Tools
Keep your tools in the garage or storage shed. Always clean off soil from digging tools before putting them away, and clean and wipe down cutting blades with an oily rag. This will prolong the life of the tools. Invest in hooks, racks, and shelves, or make them yourself out of recycled lumber, and get into the habit of hanging up your tools after use and coiling electrical cords neatly. Also clean and stack pots and bundle canes together before storing. By keeping your storage space neat, you will be able to fit more in, find what you need quickly, and avoid unnecessary hazards.