In order to garden your patch effectively, you’re going to need to have a few good tools. Not heaps, unless you need particular tools for particular jobs, just a few good ones. I’ve fallen into the trap in the past of buying cheap (I’ll blame starting out as a poor university student for that), but they end up costing you more and aren’t as enjoyable to use in the garden. You don’t need the absolute most expensive hand crafted artisan tool, but generally speaking, a good quality tool will set you a reasonable amount of cash.
So what do you need? A basic tool shed for a veggie patch will need a few essentials and you can bulk out your tool kit as you see a tool that will fit your needs. Overall, you can make do with a digging folk, a long handled shovel, a spade, a steel-tine rake, a hoe, a hand trowel, secateurs and a pruning saw. There are plenty more tools out there, but if you have a few good quality tools like these, you’ll probably do alright.
Taking care of what ever tools you have is a must. And honestly, I probably don’t take care of mine as well as I should. But here are a few simple tips to make your tools last the journey.
It is important to clean your tools regularly. Built up dirt, mud, let alone fertilizers and chemicals (if you happen to use them) will corrode away any tools. Wash your digging tools regularly and give them a quick, light scrub with a wire or stiff bristle brush every so often.
To keep your digging tools sharp and rust free, I like to run a file over the ends a few times and coat with a film of engine oil to protect from rust. I try and do this one or twice a year. Some people like to store or clean their digging tools in a bucket of coarse sand mixed with a small amount of engine oil. Running the tools in and out of the sand cleans them and oils them protecting them from rust.
A couple of times a year I try and clean up the wooden handles of some of my tools. Frequent use, or if I have happened to leave them out in the weather, makes the wooden handles rough and subject to damage. I like to quickly give them a light sand and an oil twice a year. You can use vegetable oil or linseed oil on the handles – I’ve even been told used sump oil is fine. The oil protects the wood and makes it much more enjoyable to use.
Cutting tools should be cleaned after every use to avoid spreading any diseases between plants. Make sure the cutting blade is sharp to avoid damaging the plant. The moving parts of tools like clippers and secateurs need to be oiled and even taken apart regularly to be cleaned and keep free of dirt and grime.
None of these things take a awful long time to do and if you have spent decent money on quality tools you love using, you won’t mind spending a bit of time keeping them in tip top shape.