Top Garden Tool Tips
In these times of austerity we are all told to 'make do and mend', recycling and restoring what we can to try not only to make ends meet, but also to avoid the accusation from our children they we are 'killing the planet'.
It may surprise you to know that I don't always practise what I preach when it comes to using my gardening tools. I utilise quite a number of 'tricks' to make gardening a little easier for myself. Obviously the ruses I use are not recommended by Quality Garden Tools and you employ them at your own risk!
My first tip is for when you break a spade or fork handle. Don't throw away the broken shaft, rather sharpen the end and the handle becomes a very good bulb dibber and seed planter. You may have to occasionally re-sharpen the end, but this new tool should last many years.
Fill a bucket with sharp builder's sand and add in a little oil to the mix. When you finish using your spade, fork or lawn edger, plunge them into the bucket several times before putting them away. This will not only keep your garden tools clean, but it will also stop them rusting (especially over the Winter months).
Purchase some disinfectant or use a 10% bleach solution to soak pruning saws, secateurs, loppers and even chainsaws before use; this will reduce the chances of passing on diseases whilst you are pruning in the garden. If you are pruning a tree or plant you know has a disease you should also follow this procedure after use.
Forks with broken or bent outside tines should not be disposed of, they make great rose forks. Simply use an angle grinder (or go to your local blacksmith) to remove the outside two tines at the point they bend at 90 degrees at the top of the fork and you will be able to lift your roses very easily without damaging the roots.
Next time it snows (or you get some manure delivered) use your spade to 'shovel' the snow (or manure) off the driveway or path. The concrete or tarmac will sharpen the edge of your spade so that it cuts easily through the soil and can also be used to split perennials with tough roots like agapanthus.
Snails and slugs are often a problem in the garden, especially if (like me) you love hostas. One thing that slugs appear to hate is copper, so I have started using a copper 'Castor' trowel not only to plant the hostas, but also to weed the bed they are in. They are available from a company called Implementations and although this blog is not a scientific study, I use them as part of my 'weapons arsenal' against slugs and snails.
Pruning waste from small leafed hedging varieties, especially buxus sempervirens can be a real pain to pick up. You shouldn't just leave the cuttings on the ground as it is thought in some quarters that this encourages the dreaded box blight. My tip is to use a really good blower vac (one with an all-metal impeller is a must) to pick up the cut leaves which will be conveniently mulched for adding straight into the compost.
My last tip is that I recommend everyone buys a grubbing mattock. I realise this isn't a 'tip' as such, but it is one of the best tools I own; great for clearing beds at home and at the allotment and also for removing old tree roots (I haven't broken a fork since I bought my mattock). For as little as £16.50 you can buy a grubbing mattock head and pick axe handle which will last longer than you do!
If you have any other tips or tricks for garden tools, then let me know. I will add them to future posts, just email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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