While you an garden in a polytunnel all year round, it is likely that some of your garden tools will see less use over the winter months. It is important to clean and store these tools correctly, so they are still in fine fettle and fit for use when spring rolls around. To help you to keep your things in good condition, here are some tips for storing garden tools over the winter months:
Wash and Dry Tools Properly
Garden tools will often become caked with mud. Over the winter months, this mud, if left in place, can bake on and harden and make tools unusable come spring. What is more, garden tools may also have come into contact with disease. Fungus or mildew spores can overwinter on dirty tools and spread diseases when used in spring. For both of these reasons, it is important to make sure you clean your tools thoroughly before you place them into storage. One washed, make sure you do not leave your tools wet, as they could rust if left in this condition over the winter months.
Make Sure Bladed Tools are Sharp
Bladed tools may also need to be sharpened, and when you are preparing to put these away for the winter months is a good time to take care of this issue. Invest in an whet stone to hone and sharpen blades. When using this, be sure to run the blade smoothly across the surface, and make sure that you sharpen at the same angle as the blade.
Make Sure Moving Parts are Lubricated
Secateurs and other jointed tools, or any tools with moving parts, should also be lubricated, to make sure that they do not seize up over the winter. Oiling your metal tools with a vegetable oil can be an eco-friendly way to lubricate their blades and make sure they move smoothly. Some tools with moving parts may also need to be lubricated with WD-40.
Take Care of Wooden Handles
Wooden handled garden tools can be eco-friendly. Yet when you have tools with wooden handles, it is important to remember that you will need to take care of the handles as well as the metal parts. After making sure your wooden handles are clean, it is also a good idea to make sure they do not get too dry by oiling them with linseed oil. A handle that is rough, dry and in poor repair can be sanded down before oiling to return it to better condition.
Create a Sensible and Ordered Storage Solution
Once your tools are cleaned, sharpened and oiled, it is time to put them all away. How and where you store your tools is important. First off, if you have a polytunnel, you will need to make sure that you can quickly and easily access your tools whenever you need them throughout the whole year.
But that does not mean that you cannot keep them out of the way and in an orderly way. A tool board, where you can hang tools on a wall, can help keep tools out of the away and tidy and yet will make it easier to lay your hands on what you need when you need it. A tool cupboard can also help keep tools where you can get to them easily when they are needed.
How do you store your garden tools? Let us know in the comments below.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.