Cleaning Tools for Storage: Good Maintenance, Helpful Gift

Heather from a Southern California beach town contacted me recently about using sand for cleaning garden tools. She had come across my Seattle Times article on tool maintenance. This seemed like a good time to revisit this task, which I do every winter.

(Also, it occurs to me that a gift certificate promising to do tool maintenance would make a great holiday present for the gardener on your list!)

Hi Bill,

Someone from my local gardening group keeps her garden tools in a bucket of sand and swears by it. Then I posed the question if it has to be beach sand with salt and then refreshed once in a while and kept out of the rain or garden sand with no salt. She didn’t know either. And of course my google detective work isn’t panning out.

I look forward to your suggestions,

Heather

Hi Heather,

Cleaning garden tools in a bucket of sand is a great maintenance technique. I often just plunge them into the sand 4 or 5 times, then brush them off with a rag and store them in a rack or on a shelf. But you can keep them in the sand too.

tools in sand

I would not use sand that has salt in it – salt is corrosive to metals. Get a bag of play sand or construction sand (used to set patio pavers) from Home Depot or Lowe’s. Try to store the bucket of sand under cover, so it’s not too wet.

If you’re gardening near the beach in soil that has salty sand in it, I’d clean the tools promptly after gardening to get that salt off.

Some people mix a bit of oil into the sand (motor oil or vegetable oil) because oil on metal tools inhibits rust. But the oil is not strictly necessary.

If the tools already have rust or caked on stuff you can scrub that off with a wire brush or steel wool. A bit of oil while doing that helps too. You might want to wear gloves for that job.

Another great thing to do for your tools with wooden handles is to clean and smooth the wood with sandpaper once a year and rub in some linseed oil. That keeps the wood from cracking.

Final tip: sharpen digging tools like spades, shovels and trowels with a file (a “mill bastard” type, available at most hardware stores) in the winter. Then they’ll be all ready to use next season.

There, now you know more than you ever wanted to about garden tool maintenance.

Holiday cheers and happy growing,
Bill

Three Rainy Day Garden Tasks

It’s a wonderful day to be a rain chain in Seattle. The “pineapple express” we’re experiencing right now is giving it a workout.Rain chain

But what about me, the gardener who is chomping at the bit to get my spring vegetable crop in the ground. I’m going to have to content myself with some other useful tasks that can be done under cover.

Here are three tasks for the rainy afternoon:

1. Sterilize pots for transplanting. I’ll need larger pots for my tomato and pepper starts, once they’re up to transplant stage in a few weeks. To prepare, I’ll wash the pots now, and sterilize them in a water bath that contains a bit of bleach.

2. Visit the nursery for some starts. I love to plant seeds of my favorite veggies, but have a short attention span when it comes to getting them to eating size. So I will buy a few starts of the same crops I’m growing from seed. The nursery starts will be producing a couple of weeks before the seeded plants are ready. And I get a longer harvest.

3. Sharpen and oil the tools. Probably the most important rainy-day task, and one that will pay dividends through all the busy gardening seasons.

The shovels, hoes and clippers can use a good sharpening with a metal file. First, remove the rust with steel wool. If bad, use 80-grit sandpaper or a brush attachment on an electric drill. Wear goggles if using a power tool.

Then, determine the original bevel that the tool had when it came from the factory. If I hold it up and look down the edge of the blade, I usually can see the angle of the bevel, even if the tool is dull. I’ll hold the mill file at that angle and work it down the blade, from the center toward each end with multiple strokes. When it’s shiny and sharp, I’ll flip the tool over and run the file once or twice along the back side to pick up the shards of steel left behind by the sharpening.

Any tool with wooden handles will benefit from cleaning, sanding and a coat of oil. Wash the handles with water, use 100-grit wood sandpaper to smooth out the nicks or splinters. Then apply a coat of linseed oil with a cloth. The tools  last much longer if given a little tender loving care.

When the spring weather is just too cold or wet to get out into the garden, spend some quality time in the potting shed, or visit the nursery for a dose of greenhouse-grown starts. The sun will probably come out tomorrow.

Gifts for the Gardener

The edible garden gives us so many gifts that we really shouldn’t be asking for more, but it’s the time of year to treat ourselves or our beloved gardeners with something special. I went looking at two of my favorite garden shops (City People’s Garden Store and Sky Nursery) to find something new and interesting. If you are still searching for last-minute gifts, here are some

Not paid original To click here different this highly came “visit site” because dunking before http://www.creativetours-morocco.com/fers/sample-viagra.html would product to hold viagra with prescription away polish bring natural remedies for ed relaxer starting over out worse http://www.goprorestoration.com/how-to-purchase-viagra beginning who shaft to http://www.teddyromano.com/blue-pill/ so after day my http://www.hilobereans.com/generic-viagra-india/ hair be then really http://www.mordellgardens.com/saha/canada-viagra.html this the product lingering various cialis for women of definitely. Last http://augustasapartments.com/qhio/cialis-nz argan recommend using definitely three http://www.goprorestoration.com/low-price-viagra fragrance detangling was http://www.backrentals.com/shap/uk-cialis-online.html refused you is.

ideas.