Garden Thoughts … Autumn: Putting Garden Tools to Bed

The privilege of habitually rising at 5:30 in the morning
is that it allows me to experience
the most peaceful time of day.

But at this time of year, in the Northern Hemisphere,
it is impossible not to notice a decided chill
in the early morning air.

This early reminder of approaching winter
means that it is once again time
to examine the garden tools,
give them a thorough clean,

and store them for their winter respite.

The brass hinges on my grandpa’s 1932 ruler
are regularly inspected and kept free of dirt and moisture:
though thoroughly used and well-worn by two gardeners
( he, throughout the 1950’s, 60’s, and ’70’s … and me,
from the ’80’s until now )
it is still in fine working order.

Not bad at all for an 86 year-old piece of kit.

ALL tools should be inspected for wear,
dirt, damage, and any sign of corrosion
where stones or dents have caused blemishes
that might provide a starting point for rust.

Check shovels and spades – particularly the area
to the rear of the shaft – where the handle meets the blade:

if the shovel, spade, or fork has been used to do any prying,
it is not unheard of for the metal to tear or break,
leaving cracks at the stress point
that will provide a foothold for rust.

1. Although no tool should ever be put away dirty,
hot soapy water should now be used to wash away
any and all residual dirt that an earlier ‘once-over’
with the garden hose may have missed.

2. Dry each tool thoroughly.

3. For bladed tools – such as secateurs and loppers –
use a fine sharpening stone
to bring a nicely honed edge to the blade.

4. Finally, before putting the tool away,
give all metal parts a light rub with an oiled cloth.

Care and attention now … will mean that
when the tools are next picked up in the Springtime,

our hands will lay hold on nice, clean equipment
– allowing us to concentrate with greater enthusiasm

on the Spring preparations for next years’ emerging plants.

Stainless steel or not, I confess to having made a habit
of placing a light coat of oil on each of the garden tools.

A simple premise: Take good care of the tools,
and the tools will allow you
to take good care of the garden.

P Livingstone

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