I'm often tempted to just toss the tomato cages, stakes and tools into a corner of the garage and forget about them until spring, but I know better. By cleaning tools and putting them away properly I'll extend the life of my hoes, shovels, cultivators, and hand tools. They will also be ready to work at the first sign of warmth next year. Here are some tips to properly care for your garden tools.

  • Wash them Clean- Take the time to brush off clods of soil off the metals parts of your tools with a wire brush, soap and water. Let dry then spray with a lubricant to preserve the metal. Soil on tools will hold moisture making it more likely for them to rust. Wash hand pruners in a 10% bleach solution to kill any diseases that might be on the blade. Lubricate these with oil as well.
  • Sharpen the Blades- After you've cleaned the blades, take a hand file and sharpen the edges. A sharp bladed shovel, hoe or pruner will cut through the soil and branches easier and make for less work for you.
  • Oil the Handles-  For wooden handled rakes, hoes and shovels, clean them well and apply a layer of linseed oil to preserve the wood. Wood that dries out will be more likely to crack and break when you're using it.
  • Store Them Where You Can See Them- Hang long handled tools on the wall or from rafters supported with VELCRO® Ties and Straps. Place hand tools, such as trowels and cultivators, in plastic buckets or on a peg board. Store all tools in obvious places so you'll be sure to find them next spring.

Have any questions or gardening ideas? Email Charlie and you could see them answered in his next post!

More ideas on organizing your garden shed.