Doing a maintenance check on your allotment tools is one of those satisfying jobs you can do at this time of year that will pay dividends later on.
Cleaning and looking after your tools helps them last longer and in return, they’ll look after you. As you use your tools they’ll get caked up in earth and soil, and the moisture trapped in the soil will encourage rusting. Rusting can weaken your tools (as this leads to corrosion in the long term) and you’ll find that your once sharp tools are blunt.
Start by chipping off old mud and wash what you can in some warm water with a little bit of fairy liquid and a stiff brush – I unscrew the head of my broom.
You can use a scouring pad to get off any non-persistent layers of rust – but for the tougher areas, you may want to use some steel wool and some WD40.
With a little bit of elbow grease thrown in, you’ll instantly notice a difference.
Allow your allotment tools to dry thoroughly and you can maybe help this along with the use of some rag. Applying an aerosol oil or a lubricating oil with a rag will form a barrier between the air and the steel, reducing the chance of oxidation (rust).
Rusty and blunt shears and lobbers are useless. If you have stainless steel blades, maybe consult a local steel sharpening specialist if you’d like to sharpen them – but for the time being you can clean, dry and then oil them.
Some brands of shears are designed so that you can unscrew them and then sharpen using a carborundum stone (available at any reputable DIY shop or garden centre). When it comes to pruning season, you’ll be glad you carried out this well earned tool MOT.
Oiling the shears will also help to keep the mechanism smooth when you’re pruning.