I’ve been working hard in the garden for the past few weeks as Winter is the time to prune and transplant my fruit trees and berry canes from the old place (see clip for a peak at my heritage raspberry patch). I’ve also tidied-up the ornamental gardens here to make them more to my liking (second clip), and have been busy preparing patches for vegetables and herbs. I’ve even managed to transplant some herbs and vegetables to give me a head-start, but there’s still so much to do before I can feed the family with what I grow.

So far I have planted four rows of raspberries (about 50 small canes). The chooks are lovely to have around but they get under my feet and under my tools, looking for grubs and worms. I have to keep nudging them away so I don’t hurt them.

This clip gives you an idea of how many gardens are around the house but it doesn’t show all of them. All these gardens were overrun with weeds and it took a couple of days to clean them up with hand tools. I’m converting the garden around the pizza oven to be my herb garden, as it’s closest to the kitchen.

Gardening has been a hobby of mine since I was a child and achieving self-sufficiency in herb, fruit and vegetable production has been a dream for a long time – I get closer each year but moving house is a small setback. I don’t just grow food because it tastes better or to reduce waste and lower my environmental footprint, I need this time with the earth to feel balanced. I am deeply satisfied by long days in the garden that leave my muscles aching to the core… If only I allowed myself more time to do this.

Buy less and choose well

A few useful tools makes work in the garden easier. When I need to buy a tool, I buy the best I can afford (which isn’t always the best, just the best I can afford) because cheap tools are for fools. They don’t last and you end up spending more money and wasting more resources in the long run. Chose quality over quantity. But, I also rescue secondhand tools if I can.

I look for tools that are made from good quality metal and wood, with as little plastic parts and packaging as possible. They last longer, are easier to maintain and repair, and the materials are zero waste provided they are recycled or allowed to biodegrade.

Replacing broken plastic hose fittings with bass fittings.
As hose fittings break I have been replacing them with brass fittings instead of plastic ones. They can usually be found package free or with minimal packaging.

Make it last

Tool maintenance and repairs are important to keep them functioning well for many years and to stop the spread of disease between plants. I’m pretty good at fixing rather than replacing tools but I haven’t been so good at looking after them. I tend to leave them out in the garden so they are always there when I need them, and I’ve never sharpened or cleaned them before.

Well, that has changed!

Winter day in the gardening shed
Cold, wet days are a good time to spruce-up garden tools. There’s also something about the pitter-patter of rain on a tin roof while you work.

The first thing I did was repair my rake. I already replaced the wooden handle with another wooden handle last year, but it broke again! I decided the best way forward was to get my husband to weld a steel handle to the rake. I found the steel pole left behind by the previous owner in some grass. Great luck for me! Now it doesn’t matter if I leave the rake out in the weather.

Welding a steel handle onto my garden rake.


Weather-proof rake. Wooden handle replaced with a steel one.

Next, I washed and inspected my pitch fork, shovel and ho-mi and decided they were good enough as they were, so I moved on to cleaning, sharpening and oiling my secateurs, loppers and hand saw. Here are the resources I followed to do this, except that I used bulk bought olive oil to oil the tools and bulk bought detergent and homemade kombucha vinegar for cleaning. I also used a chisel, steel scourer, and old bamboo toothbrush for scrubbing. I had to buy a sharpening stone, so I recycled all parts of the packaging.

Organic Gardener Magazine also says mixing one part tea tree oil (packaged in a glass bottle) with 10 parts water will sterilise my equipment when pruning to prevent the spread of disease. Just dip the equipment into the solution for around 30 seconds.

It feels soooo good to properly care for my trusty tools, without creating any waste. This is creating value. This is frugal hedonism!

Hopefully I’ve encouraged you to get in the garden and show your tools some love. Please share with me more of your own tips and tricks for maintaining and repairing garden tools.



11 thoughts

  1. Ooh – I have a bucket of oily sand that I stab my tools into a few times before I stick them away. Not the secateurs but my trowels etc.

    I always go dotty looking at the beautiful tools at diggers!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post. Like you we have moved house a bit, which usually means starting from scratch, but we eventually get there. I’m getting better at looking after my tools. I’ve used olive oil , but also linseed oil to protect them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You have inspired me to get outside on this sunny day and clean my tools. I have also never done it and I also leave them in the garden so can use them when I need them (I consider it me being resourceful with my time!). Today is the day!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This post put a smile in my heart. I have old tools I use, and some I just care for because they were my Dad’s, and I learnt to garden from him. Tools hold memories too! And I hope everyone getting out there growing things with their kids are creating those memories too.

    Liked by 1 person

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