Okay, here's the million dollar question: do you treat your garden tools kindly?
(key Jeopardy music)
Now, who said ME, I DO! and who shuffled their feet and looked uneasy?
If you were in the first group, you get to sit this session out. Go out that door behind you and have a coffee or something. Don't forget your scarf. You are evidently more assiduous when it comes to taking care of your tools...than, um...well...me. If I avoid eye-contact with you from here on out, please don't take it personally.
If you are in the second group, well, sit down and start feeling some residuals of sympathy shame, if only for my benefit. And bear with me while I drone on about that handy trick of keeping a bucket of oily sand in the basement in which to plunge your garden tools - and how I kept intending to actually DO it. If you have one of those oily buckets I do not want to know about it, because I spent a good deal of my afternoon, an afternoon I'd earlier earmarked for Outdoor Garden Work, doing something about the shocking state of my tools.
My poor rusty, dirt-encrusted tools.
Let's just say that it took a bout with blight to get this party started. I had segregated a few odd tools from the others, tools I'd used in a part of the garden that got late blight in the summer, assuming I'd wipe them later with a 10% solution of bleach, like the magazines all tell me to
So today saw me filling a bucket of hot water and dish soap, and arming myself with a scrubber. I washed and dried. I oiled. I used rags. I even did some sanding with steel wool. Yes, there's nothing like a little horrorslashguilt at seeing what bad shape one's garden tools really ARE in to galvanize one to action.
And if you need yet more convincing, lookee here at this picture I took, of two shovels. Let's just say that one is more than likely to outlast the other...
And if you need some really meticulous advice, here it is from the Martha's Mouth:
The best way to keep all of your tools in great shape is to take care of them year-round. To keep them pristine, do the following after each use:
1. Tap tools to remove clumps of soil.
2. Remove soil from blades and hinges with a clean cloth and brush.
3. Always use a proper cleaner to remove sap from tools after use.
4. Clean metal tools by plunging in a bucket of oiled sand. To make oiled sand, pour 3/4 quart motor oil or mineral oil into a 5-gallon bucket of sand (the sand should be damp but not moist). Push blades of tools into sand. This helps clean and condition the metal.
5. Store tools in the oiled sand, or hang on pegs.
6. Establish a regular schedule of maintenance. Once a month, you should sharpen blades, oil springs, and replace failing parts.
7. Create an area for tool storage and maintenance -- once you're organized, keeping tools in pristine condition will become an easy habit.