Tool attention

Tue. Oct. 22, 2019

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

A perennial topic! Tool attention. With temperatures up and down and precipitation here and there, we’re headed to Winter and putting our gardens to rest. That means putting the tools away too.

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, or maybe that’s just me.  Regardless of who’s been naughty or nice to their tools, it’s 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.

One recommendation is to thin a quart of motor oil with a pint of kerosene and apply a thin layer of this mixture with a clean cotton cloth.  This isn’t enough oil to cause the E-P-A to hunt you down but if that bothers you, use a vegetable base oil. I HAVE made a concerted effort this year to clean my tools each time I use them and then plunge them in a bucket of sand and vegetable oil a few times. The abrasive quality of the sand helps further cleaning and the oil leaves a light coat on the tools. I’ve sprayed my tools with Pam and they were just fine.

Take a look at this segment from my television show “Dig In Minnesota”