Getting ready for action!Posted By: rocket veg Category: Seasonal Tips
If you are itching to make a start in the garden or on your allotment, January is the ideal time to give your gardening tools their annual clean and check-up in readiness for when the gardening season begins in earnest.
Over the years, I’ve gathered a collection of gardening tools. In spite of finding it hard to resist buying even more, I’ve reached a point in life when I realise that I have everything I really need and manage to ignore the temptation to buy the latest garden gadget whose virtues are expounded in the supplement of the weekend paper. That said, I recently bought a short-handled hoe with a sharp, curved blade (‘Japanese hoe’) - indispensable when it comes to weeding close to the stems of delicate plants. Junk shops are a great source of good quality gardening tools, usually to be found propped up outside, and some allotment associations sell off tools which have been left behind when tenants give up their plot. As long as the tool is in a sound condition, once the handle has been washed and any rust removed from metal parts, you will have a tool which should give years of good service.
Cleaning metal blades
There was a time when gardeners on large estates kept a bucket full of sand soaked in discarded engine oil, in which tool blades and tines were thrust back and forth – emerging as glistening silver! For those of us who garden on a more modest scale, simply give the business end of spades and forks, rakes and hoes, trowels, secateurs a good scrub with a stiff bristled brush to remove any remains of soil, or a wire brush to get rid of rust, before wiping with an oily rag.
Fork (and other) handles
More scrubbing with a brush and soapy water needed here to clean of dirt and reveal the wood. The handles of long tools – spades, forks and rakes in particular – are traditionally made from woods such as ash and chestnut, so once the wood is dry, give it a wipe with a rag dipped in linseed oil and you’ll be amazed how beautiful the grain looks.
Oiling the working parts of tools – especially the springs and hinges of secateurs – will not only make them operate more efficiently but will prolong their life. If looked after, a pair of good quality secateurs should give many years’ service.
Sharpening tool blades
Tools designed for cutting will only do the job for which they are intended if the blades are sharp! If you fancy having a go at sprucing up your own tool blades, a small oval sharpening stone will do the trick.
Give your shed some love
Now is also a good point in the gardening year to clear out the shed – accumulated dirt and cobwebs swept away and all those odds and ends of netting, broken lengths of cane and empty plastic bottles (‘I’m sure they’ll come in handy one day…’) disposed of.