Monday, March 18, 2013
Caring for Gardening Tools
There is a reason that any quality gardening book has a section on gardeing tools. Tools help get gardening work done more efficiently and if taken care of, more safely. It is important to take care of any tools used, but gardening tools get used in special situations that normal hand and power tools generally avoid. Tools in the garden are regularly used in wet situations, in abrasive soils and outside in the sun and rain. All of these things can wreak havoc on a tool if not taken care of. While plastic is used more and more with small hand tools, those looking for more durability still rely on wood and metal, and there is no replacement for metal when it comes to cutting blades.
The most important thing to remember is to keep blades sharp, be it the pruning shears in your back pocket or the shovel head hanging in the tool shed. A sharp blade works better and is actually safer because it doesn't require extra force to accomplish the cut which may lead to injury. Before using a blade, check it for damage or dullness. Running a file over the cutting edge a few times can make a big difference in how pruning shears will cut. Feel free to sharpen during use too if it seems you are having to use more effort than you'd like.
Preventing rust can go a long way when protecting the edge of a blade and can be accomplished wth washing it and letting it dry before putting it away. Removing soil, plant material and moisture from a blade can make it last longer and wiping it with a thin layer of a tool oil or WD-40 between uses will also protect it from rust while in storage.
Special consideration should be taken when using blades to prune suspected or confirmed diseased plants in order to avoid spreading anything to healthy branches or plants. The best solution is a bleach and water mixture which may bary depending on what you are dealing with alcohol wipes or Lysol disinfecting spray are also good options, though a little less effective than bleach. Disinfecting the blades between every cut may be required when working on a diseased plant.
Remember, be careful and respect your tools and they will serve you for a long time to come.