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Terrie Schweitzer
Terrie Schweitzer

By: Scott Eckert, County Extension Agent, Horticulture

I learned many things from my dad growing up.  How to plant potatoes, how to drive a stick shift,  how to shoot a gun.  Most of these things I still know how to do.  There is, however, a chore he was good at that did not stick with me too well.  Putting garden tools away and keeping them in good condition for a long time.

Hoes, shovels and other common garden tools often have wooden handles that can deteriorate over time. Storing tools in a protected location can slow that process, but normal use will still expose the tools to the elements. The end of the season is a good time to clean up and protect the handles so they will last for many years. Weathering can raise
the grain of wood, resulting in splinters. A light sanding can smooth the handle. Follow that with a light application of wood preservative, linseed oil or polyurethane to protect the wood. Wipe off any excess after a few minutes as oil-based products can attract dirt.

Cleaning any dirt off metal parts and coating with a light application of oil can prevent rust. Good tools are expensive. A few minutes of care after the season is over can help preserve them for many years to come.

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