Garden Tool Maintenance

Perhaps this is as good a reason as any for me to make a new year’s resolution (something I seldom do): I know I should take better care of my gardening tools because (1) it will make my work in the garden easier and (2) it will make my tools last longer. I know this—in fact I’ve known it for years—but, I’ve never done it before and I’ve been gardening for more than 20 years! So, I hereby resolve that by the end of February my garden tools will be “maintained.”

I have some great tools that I’ve purchased over the years. I’m especially fond of my Corona garden shovel that I purchased at Red Pig Tools (they helped me find the right-sized shovel for me; it’s a bit smaller than what you’ll find at a Home Depot or Lowes) and my triangular hand weeding tool (I got it from Smith & Hawken decades ago). Both are ready for sharpening. I have no excuse for not doing it other than I don’t think about it until I pull the tools out of the shed to use, at which point I don’t want to delay my work in the garden. I bought with good intentions a tool sharpening file and oil at the same time I purchased my shovel so I have what I need to get the job done.

I suggested in an earlier blog that giving the holiday gift of tool sharpening would be appreciated by any gardener. Alas, my holiday elves gave me other lovely things instead.

I’m embarrassed to tell you that I’ve had to throw out several good quality hand pruners because they corroded beyond redemption. Now I have several with dull blades that still work but I have to exert a lot more effort than would be necessary if I had sharp blades. So I vow to sharpen or replace the blades so that my fingers, wrists, arms, shoulders and back don’t have to work so hard.

For helpful tool maintenance information, follow these links: a brief “how to” by Kate Bryant, Portland Monthly’s garden blogger and more indepth information. I also read a suggestion somewhere—I think it was a Martha Stewart—to fill a five gallon bucket with sand, add a little motor oil, then dip your shovels and trowels in it after each use to easily keep the tools clean and oiled…something else I’ve been meaning to do for years.

You’ll find garden tools at the Yard, Garden & Patio Show presented by Dennis’ 7 Dees, February 18-20, at the Oregon Convention Center.

If you have tool tips to share with our readers, let us know.