Now is the perfect time of year to prepare your garden tools for the upcoming growing season. It's not a difficult chore and one that will make your gardening much more enjoyable while protecting your tools investment.
All you'll need is a little sand and oil. Follow these easy steps to ensure your treasured tools will be in top shape for another season working the soil, and for many more to come.
Step 1: Fill an old pot or bucket (large enough to hold all of your metal-blade tools) with dry sand. Mix lubricating oil such as WD-40 or linseed oil with the sand until the sand is thoroughly moist. Avoid using motor oil, especially for tools you use in your vegetable garden so that you don't end up contaminating your soil with it. And while you could use vegetable oil, it tends to turn rancid in the summer heat so it isn't recommended either.
Step 2: Gather cleaned off and dry tools (rinse off any dirt or sap, or scrub off caked on mud with a stiff brush or steel-wool scrubbing pad). Plunge the metal parts of the tools into the sandy mix. Place the pot or bucket with the tools in the sand mixture in a cool, dry place to let the mix do its work. Keep wooden tool handles from splitting and drying out during the winter months by rubbing them with linseed oil or mineral oil. Simply rub the oil on and let set (this may take a few applications to get the handles nice and clean). I recommend using fine steel wool to rub on the handles before applying oil.
Step 3: When you are ready to begin using your tools, remove them from the sandy mixture and wipe down the blades with a piece of burlap or coarse cloth.
Note: If you'd prefer to hang your tools in a garage or garden shed, you can plunge them into the mixture several times to remove debris iand then polish with a coarse cloth before hanging them for storage.
Keep the sandy mixture nearby to use anytime you want to spruce up your tools. It will last you through many seasons of gardening.
To clean rust off of your garden tools, follow this recipe:
Mix water and baking soda into a thick paste and spread the paste all over the metal, making sure that rusty spots are well covered. Let the paste sit on the object for an hour or so. Use steel wool or a wire brush to scour the object and remove the rust. Rinse the paste off with water and dry thoroughly.