Just a few simple items will help garden tools last for years. (Mary Lowther photo)

Mary Lowther column: A gardener only as good as their tools

I wish I’d paid more attention to my garden tools when I was younger.

By Mary Lowther

I wish I’d paid more attention to my garden tools when I was younger. I bought them second hand and clearly the only reason some of them have lasted this long is because the original owners bought quality tools and knew how to look after them. I knew enough to bring them undercover when it rained but that was the extent of my tool maintenance because common sense was not one of my strong points.

The first inkling that I might need some brushing up came when I hired myself out as a gardener, pretending to know what I was doing. Why not, it had worked so far with motherhood. When I arrived the second day at one customer’s home, he took me to his tool shed and confided in me: “Look at that. Someone didn’t clean the dirt off the tools before putting them away yesterday.” I had figured that since I was only going to get them dirty again they didn’t need to be cleaned off every day. I’ve learned a lot since then.

Moisture in the soil can rust tools, even when it looks dry, so now I keep a brush and rag near where I store my tools so it’s easy to clean them off after every garden session. The wheelbarrow that we bought from a wise man who always stored it under cover, lives undercover here too in the winter. Brush off any dirt and wipe down everything, including the wheel and axle.

Now is a good time to check for cracks and nicks in the wooden parts; cracks will need to be repaired or the parts replaced unless you want a nasty event to ruin a perfectly good gardening day in the future. Sand down all the wooden parts and rub them with oil to help preserve the wood. I use tung oil because it penetrates very well and seals the wood to keep out moisture. Any oil is better than none, but it doesn’t take much. I pour a bit on a rag and rub the wood with that. Scrub out the barrel well, sanding down any rust spots and touch up the paint. My wheelbarrow wasn’t painted so, although I couldn’t find any recommendation, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to rub it down with an oily rag. Squirt a bit of WD 40 into the axle and check the tire for air.

Clean off all the rest of the tools, checking for cracks and nicks and rust spots, making sure they’re all in working order. I follow the same regimen as for the wheelbarrow and sharpen the shovel, hoe, secateurs and linoleum knife. Neiser’s Sales in Lake Cowichan will do a dandy job sharpening these tools also. I spray WD 40 on the working joints, rubbing it into the rest of the metal, and rub tung oil on wooden handles.

If you need a new tool, you’ve got all winter to get one. Check out garage sales and our own Home Hardware store for sales. If they don’t have what you’re looking for in the store, they can probably order it for you.

Events:

Christmas Wreath Making Workshop at Dinter Nursery, four dates:

Nov. 24, Saturday, 1 p.m.

Nov. 25, Sunday, 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Nov. 28, Wednesday, 9:30 a.m.

Please contact mary_lowther@yahoo.ca with questions and suggestions since I need all the help I can get.

Just Posted

Changes coming to BC Ferries reservations for Vancouver Island routes

Many customers are booking multiple reservations, inflating wait times

North Cowichan is Canada’s hot spot on Wednesday

The Warmland lives up to its name

Robert Barron column: Lower speed limits could save lives

That’s annoying, but at the same time, I think it will save some lives.

New Coast Guard radar boosts marine traffic monitoring off B.C. coast

Six radar installations set up for Georgia Strait to Queen Charlotte Strait to Prince Rupert

We should be pressuring province, not taking on housing, water

Should we really be allocating expenditures toward responsibilities that are not solely ours?

1st Indigenous woman to start Canadian airline looks to B.C.’s remote regions

Teara Fraser is the first Indigenous woman in Canada to start her own airline, called Iskwew Air

Vancouver Island remembers

Important stories shared as Islanders salute those who made the greatest sacrifice

Canadian Armed Forces to change approach to sexual assault investigations

New program aimed at a more open and transparent process, will consult with civilians, health and law professionals

UPDATE: Death of 38-year-old Fernie man at B.C. coal mine under investigation

Vehicle collision occurred at approximately 10:45 a.m. Sunday morning

Breathing polluted air during pregnancy may increase odds of baby having autism: SFU study

Study looked at nearly all births in Metro Vancouver between 2004 and 2009

Six students arrested, charged in sex assault probe at Toronto all-boys school

The school’s principal, Greg Reeves, described the video of the alleged sexual assault as ‘horrific’

Bankruptcies in British Columbia on the rise

Consumer bankruptcies climbed by 6. 1 per cent in August 2018 from the same month last year.

22 public toilets in Victoria: 136 people currently peeing

World Toilet Day floats some serious health issues

Calgary Stampeders back to Grey Cup with 22-14 win over Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Calgary was favoured to win the 2017 and 2016 Grey Cups, but lost to the Toronto Argonauts and Ottawa Redblacks respectively.

Most Read