Where would we be without our trusty gardening tools? With a little tender loving care, there’s no reason they shouldn’t last for many years. You can easily maintain your gardening tools to keep them as good as new. Keep the following tips in mind.
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Blast mud off your digging tools with a jet of water or scrub with a wire brush. If dirt has hardened, soak metal parts first before wiping clean with an old rag. Then apply a vegetable-based oil using a clean cloth.
Sharpen digging tools and hoes using a metal file. Keep the angle shallow and work your way along both the front and the back of the blade. Use a vice to clamp the tool still while you work if you have one. Finish by oiling the blade.
Clean wooden handles then smooth off with sandpaper before polishing with a natural, protective oil, such as teak oil.
Clean pruning tools using a wire brush or wire wool if necessary, and then wash them in soapy water and dry them well before storing them.
To sharpen pruning tools, hold the tool firmly in position. Only sharpen the cutting blade itself, working the sharpening stone, file, or whetstone in the same direction as the bevel. Smaller blades may need to be worked in a circular motion. Two to five passes of the sharpening stone should be enough.
After the tool is clean, tighten up any loose bolts on moving parts. Check blades, springs, and handles, repairing or replacing parts when necessary. Finish by spraying with a tool lubricant.
Learn more about how to maintain and properly sharpen your gardening tools in this video.
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Shelley Stonebrook is MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine’s main gardening editor. She’s passionate about growing healthy, sustainable food and also runs Stonegrass Farms Soap Co. in her spare time. Follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.