Winter Tool Maintenance

Your Monthly Garden Tip

By Kate Bryant December 22, 2010 Published in the January 2011 issue of Portland Monthly

ANY GARDEN TOOL with a steel blade and a wooden handle will last longer if you clean and oil it every winter. And come spring, you’ll be more excited to use gear that looks spiffy—and actually works. First, hose off tools and use a brush to scrub off soil or mud. Let them dry, then rid them of rust with steel wool, 80-grit sandpaper, or, worst case, a wire brush. To prevent future rust, cut some motor oil with kerosene in a 2:1 ratio and rub it onto any steel parts with a cotton rag. Treat wooden handles with a cotton rag dipped in linseed oil. Hang your arsenal on racks or nails in a dry place so blades don’t touch each other or become blunted. While you’re at it, why not hold a tool-cleaning party? The oil, kerosene, linseed oil, wire brushes, and sandpaper can be shared, reused, and, perhaps, accompanied by some leftover holiday cheer. A belly-warming toddy will surely make the task far less onerous.

For tool-sharpening tips, see Kate Bryant’s blog, Plantwise.

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