Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Shovel and Spade Care

A long time ago, I read somewhere that it was good to keep a bucket filled with sand and a quart of motor oil in the garden shed so you could clean your shovels and spades. I did it for one season and then forgot that the bucket of sand contained oil and used the sand in the driveway for grit during the winter. It was a mess at the bottom of the bucket and a pain in the neck to dispose of.

Now, because I’m more aware of soil-borne plant viruses, I’m more careful about keeping my shovels and spades and garden forks clean on a daily basis. I remembered the old oil and sand in the bucket method, but I wasn't crazy about using motor oil on my garden implements, I found it is just as easy to hose off the shovels and spades and garden forks after each use.

A couple times a season, I get out a file and put a new edge on the shovels and spades. I know it’s time for a new edge when I find it’s difficult to start a hole or edge the walks. This process also works if I find nicks in the tool from hitting rocks or other objects while I’m digging. (I did this over the weekend when it was too hot to do any work in the garden.)

At the end of the season, I clean the tools like normal and then use a wire brush to get off any rust spots. I then give them a little spritz of WD40 for a protective coating before hanging them in the garage for the winter.

That's how shovel and spade care happens at Auntie K's Garden, what works best in your garden?


Marguerite said...

I've heard of the oil and sand trick but have never tried it. Much like you, I generally try to knock off as much dirt as possible after usage. I do have a heavy brush to help with that chore and if things get a bit wet I also have 'rust erasers' to clean things up. I must confess, I've never learned to sharpen my own tools. I usually beg my husband to take care of that for me!

Auntie K said...

Marguerite; I haven't heard of rust erasers. Do you get them at the hardware store? That sounds easier than the wire brush and WD-40 method! Because they're not implements that have blades like knives or saws, I'm much more comfortable filing the shovels and spades.

Marguerite said...

The rust erasers came from Lee Valley Tools(Canadian store but they sell online and have a catalogue available). They come in 3 grits (fine, medium, coarse). They are rubber blocks about the size of your palm, feels just like an eraser. Very handy for when I leave tools out in the rain.

Heather@myeverydaygraces said...

I am embarrassed to say how I take care of my garden implements... can I plead the 5th?

You bring up some great points... I am feeling a little inspired!

visiting from TGP

Auntie K said...

Heather; I've been thinking about your comment and have to confess that while I do keep my shovels and spades in good condition, it's the shears and clipper I neglect. I'm certain it's because I'm intimidated by sharpening the blades incorrectly. Thanks for visiting!

Jami said...

I, too, must confess that I do nothing for my poor shovels and trowel other than knock the dirt off and hang them up. I feel I'm doing good if they don't get left out in the rain to rust. Isn't that awful? You probably can guess I've never spent any real money on them. :-)

Thanks for linking to the TGP!

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