Sunday, January 23, 2011

Me & My Tools


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 oh honestly sheila you live in a little world of make believe, who did you think WOULD clean those tools? AND get that 10% solution mixed up? Huh? Huh? Huh? In the end, it wasn't the blight that did it - it was Richard mixed with the really dirty tools in the basement. Nothing like a little encounter with Richard's patented "Your tools are taking over that basement again and they look a MESS! How am I supposed to have a workshop when all your crap takes over this place?" (note that he doesn't use any expletives whatsoever, I think he'd like it if I pointed that out).

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:
Routine Care
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.




9 comments:

Michelle said...

Cleaning gardening tools? Never heard of it. The closest I've ever come to cleaning my spade is to wipe it on the grass. Sharpening blades? [nervous laughter] Do people really *do* that?

Hanging my head in shame...oh, the guilt...

I'll do better by my tools from now on; I promise...sometimes...maybe...

Suji said...

And here I was feeling all smug and just a tad gloat-y that for a gardening newbie, my tools actually look used and worn and dirt encrusted...guess I had it all wrong, sigh.

SPRINES...a shrine for pinecones?

Rebecca said...

Did you used to work at City Farmer? Or did I dream that...

I *know* that there were buckets of sand and oil there... to set a good precedent and help us develop healthy life-long tool maintenance habits.

Not that it worked for me.

sheila said...

It's all very shame-inducing, isn't it? My poor tools. Some of them were quite rusty. I can say no more.

Michelle, I think you and I are on the same page. Lazy R Us...lol

Suji, you have the PINE CONE Shrine! Get me Miyazaki, stat!

Rebecca, I DID used to work for City Farmer. I was there in the Neolithic Age, when the Lower East Side Garden was but a berm in someone's eye...

I know about those buckets of sand and oil, too. I sigh, too. I made the kids come and gaze admiringly at my oily tools today, just in case it never happens again, lol. If I manage to actually get this plan in action I'll let you know. In theory, right? In solidarity, right? LOL!

Samantha said...

Gorgeous! Now all you need to do is crochet some cozies for them. I'll bet not even Martha has cozies for her gardening tools!

My tools live under the deck - probably not an ideal condition for them. I think I'll slink out of here now...

sheila said...

Yes, you just slink out there right this minute, my dear. I felt MOST virtuous when showing mine off to the twins, but that was tempered slightly by the fact that come gardening time we might never come this way again...

No, Martha doesn't have any cozies - she's too busy boasting about her latest and greatest iPad magazine review. Sigh. And to think that she could be working on those burlap shrub fastenings...honestly. Some people and their priorities.

Samantha said...

You can't use them now that they are clean!! They must be hung up and admired, but not dirtied. Would be such a shame...

I was thinking that crochet cozies wouldn't do it. For you Sheila, I'm seeing faux fur, I'm seeing leopard prints and I'm seeing a big red S appliqued onto them. Take that Martha!

Slinking back out now...

Andrea said...

Um, my tools aren't in the basement. They aren't in a bucket of oily sand.... they're outside.... in the snow.... Most of them are standing up, though... does that make you feel better now?

Louise said...

Great advice. I know a gardener should look after his tools, but I don't. No-one can get through as many pairs of secateurs as I do! x