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Gardening Tool Maintenance: How to care for your home farming and gardening tools

Spading, forking, and hoeing can be dirty work, but keeping your gardening tools clean and well maintained with gardening tool maintenance is vital. When it comes to working in the soil, our tools become extensions of us, allowing us to tend to our growing spaces with care, love, and a firm (but fair) hand. Doesn’t it stand to reason then that we afford our gardening tools the same care we give our hands?

Gardening Tool Maintenance: How to care for your home farming and gardening tools

Unlike our hands though, luckily our gardening tools don’t need the same daily maintenance. Which is good because I don’t think any of us could afford the moisturiser!

Depending on how obsessive compulsive you are, cleaning and maintaining your gardening tools need only be an annual or biannual affair. Taking care to treat the wood and metal in such a way that their lifespans are extended, and they become such a mainstay in your life you can practically give them names.

At Get Dirty we suggest you take care of your tools in the following ways:

Daily/Weekly maintenance:

  • Wipe and wash any obvious soil and dirt (this will prevent rusting)
  • Store out of the sun (like our skin, wood is affected by the suns harsh rays. Slathering sunblock on our tools would be ridiculous so the simplest solution is to store them in the shade when not in use)

Annual/Biannual maintenance:

Wooden handles:

  • Clean thoroughly with soapy water (we use ProNature Plant Soap Concentrate) and a stiff brush to remove soil and scum, or to clean dry tools use a metal brush and damp rag.
    If there are rough spots or splinters use small grit (100 – 150 grit) sandpaper to smooth the handles
  • Leave to dry
  • Apply a coat of oil with a cloth or paintbrush (eg: Linseed, tung, walnut, or ProNature Outdoor Sealer)
  • Let sit for 15 mins
  • Wipe down with a dry cloth
  • A 2nd or 3rd oiling may be necessary if wood is old and cracked (allow at least 6 hours between applications)
Gardening Tool Maintenance: How to care for your home farming and gardening tools

Metal tool heads

  • Clean thoroughly with soapy water and a stiff brush to remove soil and scum, or to clean dry tools use a metal brush and a damp rag.
  • Wipe metal with oil (any organic oil, eg. vegetable oil, walnut). This discourages and halts any rust spots.
  • Sharpen tools if necessary, then wipe down to get rid of any metal filings.
Gardening Tool Maintenance: How to care for your home farming and gardening tools

Many people cite using coconut or olive oil, but we find that these leave a gummy residue so personally we don’t use them.

So, for those of you out there already cleaning and maintaining your gardening tools as described, well done you! You get a free pass to go spoil yourself and buy those plants you’ve been eyeing. For those of you who aren’t… I say give it a try. There is nothing quite as satisfying as the feel of a newly-oiled wood handle in the palm of your moisturised (and beautifully callused) hand.

*We do not receive any affiliate marketing kickbacks from above mentioned products. It was only after extensive research, while manufacturing our Get Dirty tools, that we discovered ProNature and their similarly aligned eco-conscious ethics regarding garden tool maintenance. Their brand was the only local product we found that not only gets the job done, but does so using only eco-friendly ingredients. 

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