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How to store garden tools

Nov 27,2008

Around this time of year, gardeners take to storing their tools for the winter. Conventional wisdom dictates hand tools should be individually scrubbed, disinfected with a bleach solution and then rubbed well with oil before storing. That works very well, actually, but it can monopolize an entire weekend morning.

My way works just as well, and unless you own a farm, you should be able to complete the chore in less than an hour.

1. Hose caked-on soil and debris off hand tools. Dry well with a rag and spray with a disinfectant spray such as Lysol. Allow to dry.

2. Fill a bucket (or several buckets, depending on how many tools you have) two-thirds full with all-purpose, general or builders' sand, available at The Home Depot and Lowe's stores, among others.

3. Recycle used motor oil by pouring several pints into each bucket and mixing it with the sand. How many pints you need depends on the size of your bucket. You don't want the sand to float, but you do want to coat it well. Mix it up. (Don't ever use cooking oil; it will attract rodents and insects.)

4. Thrust the working end of the tool into the bucket. If necessary, work the tool in and out of the sand for about a minute to remove rust. Place the bucket in the garage, and leave it there until spring, when you simply remove, wipe and start digging. Cover the bucket tightly and store in the garage for future use. This mixture will last forever.

For long-handled tools, follow steps 1 to 4 but remove tool after dipping it in the oily sand, wipe it off and hang to store. Neither method should be used on pruners or other bladed tools, as the sand will dull the blades.



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