Here we are during some of the shortest and coldest days of the year. This time of year is usually a good time to stay inside and leave the garden at rest. If you have time on your hands and need something to keep you occupied what you can accomplish is the rescue of your garden tools. I may have provided this information before but the truth is if you protect your garden tools they will serve you for life.
One of the garden chores that we often forget, really we ignore it, is the upkeep of our garden tools. Perhaps the most important companions when we are outside working with soil and we usually ignore their maintenance.
What exactly is done when maintaining tools? The first thing is to clean them off. Remove any soil, grass or yard debris from the tool handles and use area. For example, on a shovel clean off the shovel blade and handle. Once this is done, sharpen any cutting blades on pruners or the edges of shovels or trowels. Once sharp, apply a thin coat of oil to keep the blades from rusting.
If the handles are made of wood then they need to be cleaned and reconditioned. Take sandpaper to the handle to remove any splintered or cracked pieces of wood. Once the handle is smoothed down apply linseed oil to protect the handle from water. Check the handles, especially long handles, for severe cracks that would diminish the use of the tool. If handles need to be replaced then do so.
If you have a wheel barrel, check out the wheels and handles on this large garden tool for any breaks or needed repairs. After cleaning out the tub and removing debris from the handles and wheels then oil moving parts and add linseed oil to the wooden handles. If the handles are metal you may want to add tape to help protect the metal.
Bring tools inside the garage, storage shed or basement out of the weather for the winter. Even moisture from the air can cause them to rust and warp. When someone asks you what gardening can be done during this time of year you can tell them about one of the most important a that need to be done and recommend they do the same.
The Extension office is open Monday - Friday, located in Kennett, Missouri at 233 North Main Street. For horticulture questions contact the horticulture specialist at 573-686-8064. MU is an equal opportunity/ADA institution.