Each week in this section you can find a new article about things to keep you busy in and near your garden -- in every season.
Week Three: Clean, sharp garden tools are to a gardener what a set of finely honed chef's knives are to a cook. Indispensible.
Winter is a good time to inspect spades, shovels, forks, hoes and pruners. Are they still covered in last year's dirt? When was the last time you sharpened any of them?
To clean tools first scrape off any loose soil, then wash off what remains. Dry thoroughly and rub the metal with motor oil or WD40 to prevent rusting. Rusty spots should be sanded with 80-grit sandpaper before oiling.
Spades and shovels can be sharpened with a hand file. A whetstone, available from any hardware store, works best for smaller tools like pruners, forks and trowels.
If your tools are hopelessly blunt or rusted, it may be time to shop for replacements. Buy the best tools you can afford - and look after them with regular cleaning and oiling.