Tools and Their Care

No one is born a perfect gardener. It’s a learned skill. Some of us began our education as children, helping our mothers or fathers or grandparents or aunties and uncles to weed and harvest and learn organically. Some of us were not so blessed and began our ventures much later in life, perhaps after becoming parents ourselves. And our styles are varied and abundant. And mine is random, experimental, delving, deeply appreciative, and full of curiosity. Concurrent is a gradual learned discipline, ever evolving, shaping our lives in the garden, and this includes our use and care of tools.

Folks who have read my book Plant Whatever Brings You Joy might recall a saying I learned from my Brazilian gardener, that it was “better to dig a five dollar hole for a fifty cent plant than a fifty cent hole for a five dollar plant”. This bit of wisdom, coupled with the realization that the men in my life who were gardeners were able to do things I could not not because they were men, but because they owned the proper tools for the job, got me to start investing in some for myself. Haha. ๐Ÿ˜‰

One of those tools was a lawn mower. And gradually the accumulation grew and they all have their various and sundry places now, in my home–out in the shed, if used less often. The many pairs of gloves live with the small tools in a handy drawer in the dining area. Every single time I open this drawer my Border Collie, Ruby, runs to the back door in anticipation of going into the garden. It’s very endearing. But she’s right. We are off for a good time and some exploring.

Nearby is a larger drawer filled with Big Tools. Let’s just call them that, OK? Occasionally I am called to use them.

And the third spot in my home is a little cubby in the kitchen, sharing space with indoor tools. Its height allows for long tall tools, and keeps them clean and handy. Blower, small rake, edging tool and cutting tool all at the ready.

So, with good storage handled, what else need I consider?

I must confess to not always getting the shovels back into the shed in a timely fashion. I’ve learned that soaking a shovel sporting rust in a mild solution of water and vinegar does most of the hard work. A bit of steel wool might still be required to finish the job.

If I told you I followed professional advice and washed my clippers each time I used them with soap and water to avoid passing along (whatever) from plant to plant, I’d be lying. But I do rinse them off and that will do for now.

After researching the care of wooden handles of our shovels, etc. I concluded for myself that oft-recommended linseed oil, which is combustible, was not anything I was going to adapt, and have opted instead for a bit of high quality olive oil to maintain my handles. If someone has a better idea, that does not involve the possibility of burning down the shed, I’m open to learning.

While all of the above I consider important, the tools I’m most inclined to want to encourage my gardening readers to care for is your own body. Your hands and nails, your skin, your muscles, eyes, hair, lungs and feet are all integral to happy and successful gardening. Here’s a quick list:

*Hands and nails are best kept healthy and happy protected with gloves. Find a pair or two you love. It can make all the difference. Moisturizing and sunscreen are important. Have nail brushes handy when you shower or bathe, as well as at the sink. Use a really good handcream often. (I love Burt’s Bees Almond Milk Cream.) I give my nails a quick filing after every gardening adventure.

*Cuts and bruises need care. Wash cuts–no matter how small–with soap and water and treat with something you trust. Bruises do well with an application of arnica gel. Big bruises do better with Tiger Balm.

*Muscles need to be stretched prior to use. And incorporating an additional practice that strengthens muscles avoids injury.

*Wear a hat in the sun. Find one you LOVE. Otherwise you will collect a few that never seem to make it to the top of your head. I love the ones that serve specifically as sun protectors.

*Wear proper footwear! I invested in Hunter wellies this year and I love the protection they offer me in wet weather–up to my knees!

*If you suffer from allergies, protect yourself from pollens as you can. I use Alleraide and it basically eliminates symptoms. It’s homeopathic.

Those are some of the things I’ve learned over the years. I would love to hear some of your tips to make gardening one of the happiest activities in your life.

Love and gardening blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

Blog news: Honored to once again have this blog be acknowledged as one of the top gardening blogs around. I’m so glad it serves so many people. It’s my joy and privilege to share from my corner of the world here in Northern California. Thank you for visiting!

6 Responses to “Tools and Their Care”

  1. Hi Kathryn ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’m in my late 40’s and am just learning how to garden this year. Before it was mostly herbs, last year I tried a few tomato plants and this year it’s a full-out container garden (since I’m still renting, I can’t dig up what I want to!)…I have lots of plans, and very few tools!

    And you are so right about taking care of yourself. The first day in the yard for me produced a lot of painful muscles…I guess they’ve been dormant all winter! I do have a problem with my hands, joint pain, but this is something that can’t be avoided, only managed. I also forget to drink water as I go along, so now I bring out a little cooler with water bottles inside to make myself remember!

    Our dogs get excited too when they hear me fiddling around with my gardening supplies, it’s very cute.

    Hope you have a nice day! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Hi, Rain and welcome! Yes, the transition from winter to spring is so important! Soaking in Epsom salts is a good remedy. And thank you for bringing up the importance of staying hydrated! I hope you are including turmeric in your regimen for the joint pain. I find hand stretches are good to include, too. Bet you’ve learned that. And, yes, our doggies make gardening so much more fun! Kathryn xoxo

  3. Lovely! Such great reminders. Ever the lesson from the garden carries over into life- and having the right tool for the job certainly is one of those. <3

  4. Hi, Antonia! So true! Love, Mom xoxo

  5. Always a pleasure to open your site and be informed and inspired.
    Gardening is one of my special joys. I have daffodils of many types and bloom times all around my property..even the woods and pond ..with a three big beds near the house. Sooo fun to be seeing them now as Spring is slowly coming the NY.

    Cousin Alice

  6. Hi, Alice! I am delighted to hear about your garden and I’m so glad you are enjoying its awakening in spring! It sounds beautiful! Kathryn xoxo

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