You can opt for cheap tools, but in this case, keeping them is a minor problem, since when they wear out, you can simply throw them away. But as a conscientiously and environmentally engaged gardener, I believe that’s not your choice.
Regardless, know that taking care of your garden tools regularly will ensure that they are ready to work whenever you need them. Following a few tips will add many years of life and use to all your tools.
In addition to greater durability, well-kept tools have advantages such as:
- Ease of use, requiring less strength and wear from the gardener;
- Precise cuts, which do not chew the plant tissues;
- Reduction of the spread of pests and diseases among the plants, once the tools are clean;
Reduction of pests and dirt in the tool storage area.
Tips for tool maintenance:
1. Start thinking about the maintenance of tools at the time of purchase. Rubberized handles, stainless steel blades, robust springs and screws. Ergonomic handles, in good quality wood or resistant plastic. Runaway from tools with an iron or cheap plastic blade, with a painted enamel that peels off and handles made of fragile wood, suitable for boxing. Thus, you facilitate not only the maintenance, but also the use and comfort of the tool. Look for suitable and traditional brands, regardless of whether they are national or imported, and ask for the opinion of the seller. Agricultural stores and garden centers usually have more options than supermarkets.
2. Prefer to buy the tools individually, according to the need, than pre-assembled kits that often have tools that you end up not using. The pruning shears should have special care, once those bad blades knead with easiness, create teeth and dust, in a way that you will soon need to buy another one.
3. Wash shovels, forks, rakes, diggers and hoes regularly with running water soon after use. Use a hard bristled brush or spatula to remove hardened earth blocks. Dipping them in a bucket of damp sand can be a quick way to remove dirt.
4. Pruning tools such as scissors should be brushed and washed with soap and water. Use a small nail or toothbrush for thorough cleaning.
5. If the tools have been exposed to plants suspected of disease or pest-infested soils such as nematodes, sterilize them by soaking them in a solution of one part bleach to two parts clean water. If you prefer, wipe them with a cloth moistened with regular cleaning alcohol.
6. After cleaned and completely dry it is time to lubricate. Here is a very important detail: Do not use mineral oils derived from petroleum, such as machine oil and others. These oils are great for the preservation of tools, but they contaminate the soil and damage your garden. In the same way, common vegetable oils are not recommended, since they grind in contact with the air, and end up getting sticky, damaging the sliding between the moving parts of the tools. The holy grail of the lubrication of garden tools is linseed oil. It does not need to be a virgin oil, it can be the same type used in car care. Linseed oil forms a protective film between the metal and the air, preventing oxidation and rust formation. It also serves to hydrate the wooden handles, increasing their durability, besides leaving a more beautiful aspect. And best of all, it does not contaminate the environment. Apply throughout the entire length of the tool using a cloth soaked in oil. Remove the excess if necessary. Wash the cloths then, once dry and with oil are potential fuels, becoming dangerously flammable.
7. Store tools in a dry and well-ventilated shed or garage. Smaller hand tools can be stored in a bucket of sand or pebbles, and larger tools should be hung or stored upside down. A perforated eucatex panel can be an excellent option to store your tools on hooks, so that they are visible and easy to reach.
8. Scissors, knives and styluses should be cleaned of the sap, as they become a source of contamination and are difficult to use. The sap of the plants tends to stick glue to the blades. One tip is to work with the tool with a cloth and alcohol by hand, and clean the blade regularly, especially when working with plants that pour thicker sap. If the sap dries, you can remove it with solvents such as turpentine, thinner or kerosene.
9. The best way to prevent rust is to make sure the tools are completely dry before storing them and to treat them with linseed oil. However, if you encounter rust, you can take some steps to get rid of it, preventing it from advancing and recovering your tools. Soak them in a solution with one part alcohol vinegar and one part water for about 12 hours. Then rub them with steel wool in a circular motion. Rinse with soap and water. Leave to dry completely and do not forget to pass a good layer of flaxseed oil.
10. Dismantle and clean the pruning shears thoroughly every year. This task is great for us to do in winter, when the garden tasks diminish and we will keep the tools for a long time. This way, they are prepared for so many prunings that begin in spring. Unscrew the scissors so that they open and wash all parts scrupulously with a brush, water and soap. Be careful not to lose any components. Then soak the pieces in the vinegar and water solution, leaving for 12 hours. Rub the parts with steel wool to remove any rust. Rinse and dry. Sterilize tools in bleach and water solution for 15 minutes. Rinse and dry. After completely dry, wipe with a cloth soaked in linseed oil. Remove excess oil and assemble your scissors.
11. Cutting or pruning with blind blades usually results in chipped branches with chewed fabrics, making them more susceptible to disease. In addition, it makes the work much more difficult and requires great effort, causing unnecessary pain and calluses. When using pruning tools, remember that each tool is suitable for one type of branch. Do not use scissors on thick, woody branches, as these should be pruned with a saw. In the same way, tender and soft stems can be easily cut with a stylus or knife, not requiring the use of scissors.
12. You can sharpen your tools at home or have them sharpened. There are many companies and professionals that perform this service quickly with appropriate equipment at a very low cost. If you want to use a sharpening stone to obtain a fast wire in blades and blades of cut. If you are skilled and know how to use it, you can use a grinder for the operation.
13. Be sure to take care of the wooden handles as well. Small cracks can be reinforced with heavy-duty adhesive tape, such as insulating tape. Any handle with severe cracks should be replaced as soon as possible to avoid accidents and injuries if it breaks during use. Before each use, thoroughly search for cracks, especially near the blade insertion. Lightly sand and apply linseed oil annually to condition tool handles.
We hope these tips helped you understand how to take care of your gardening tools.
Got some tips? Let us know in the comment section.