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While it’s too early to “gather ye rosebuds as ye may” so to speak, the time is ripe to gather your tools for a good once over before spring arrives. Take an inventory of your garden tools. Make sure you know where they are. If you have broken handles, replace them. If you have tools beyond repair, get rid of them. This is your tool-spring-cleaning so to speak.

Next, gather up your spades, shovels, trowels and hoes which take the brunt of abuse during the growing season. When these blades get thrust or dragged through dirt, sand and pebbly ground their blades get dinged and dulled. The duller a blade, the harder it is to get them to penetrate sod and earth. You will need a good vice or else a tool bench with plenty of space and some clamps, a 10”bastard file, steel wool and mineral oil. I also suggest a sturdy pair of work gloves to wear while sharpening. Clamp the tool with the blade toward you. Move the file in short quick motions forward and to the side. Make sure to match the angle on the blade. When the blade is sharp, make a few quick passes over the back of the blade to remove any burrs. Once satisfied with the blades sharpness, use the steel wool to remove any rust from the rest of the surface and using a cloth, wipe it down with mineral oil. Mineral oil will not harm any of the important soil microorganisms the way motor oil or WD40 will.

If the handles are wood and they need attention, now is the time to see to them. If the wood is splintery or the paint is flaking, sand the handles down completely. Using a new cloth, rub either linseed or sweet almond oil into the handle a few times. Once the oil has completely soaked in and is dry to the touch, use super fine steel wool to polish the handles smooth. Now your tools are ready for spring which is only a few months away!


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