Tool attention

Wed. Oct. 21, 2020

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show: Tool attention

One of the last tasks of the gardening season is tool attention. You’ve been abusing your trowels, shovels, pruners and hoes all season, leaving them scattered about your yard and gardens to let mother nature do what she will to them.

Maybe you haven’t cleaned them off properly or sharpened your pruners.  Regardless of who’s been naughty or nice to their tools, it’s soon time to clean them up and get them ready for storage.

  • Consider putting neon tape on your tools so you can spot them when you get distracted to take a phone call or wander off to another project! I still lost my favorite trowel this year!  I have no idea where it could have gone. Guess that’s on my Christmas list!
  • Once you’ve collected your equipment, hose off any chunks of dirt. Clay is a particular bear, you may need to use a heavy bristled brush. In a perfect world you’d be cleaning your tools after each use. But, honestly, my world’s not perfect so I don’t do it unless they’re really a mess! Like my dad used to say, “do as I say, not as I do!”.
  • Once the initial dirt is cleaned up, it’s time to take some steel wool to the rusty parts. If the rust has really taken over, use a steel brush first.
  • For pruners, axes and knives that may have some sap on them, use just a little paint thinner on a cotton cloth to clean up the gummy stuff. Be sure to wipe all your tools dry. Then apply a coat of oil.

This was a segment in my tv show DigIn Minnesota in 2013

I use vegetable based oil. You can use linseed or tung oil, or even a little motor oil if you care to.  Here’s additional information from