Winter has well and truly arrived in the UK over the last couple of weeks with snow, ice, wind and rain making life tough for the British gardener. But what jobs can we get on with at this time of year and how can we best look after our precious Bulldog garden tools so they last until the new season?
There are a number of gardening tasks that can be undertaken in December including winter pruning. Apple and pear trees, Acers, birches and vines can all be pruned now and roses should also be cut back to avoid wind rock at this time of year. For these jobs you will need a pair of sharp, clean secateurs, powerful loppers, a pruning saw and preferably a telescopic pole pruner for those high, hard to reach branches.
When pruning, try and keep your cuts very clean and avoid ragged finishes as these can become a point where disease enters the tree, especially when the weather is damp. It is therefore worth investing in a good sharpening stone to keep your secateurs and loppers clean and razor sharp. Change the blade of pruning saws regularly and clean wood chips from the blade after use, occasionally sterilising your saw with a mild disinfectant to avoid spreading cankers and viruses which can be passed on by contaminated pruning tools.
Many gardeners over-prune their plants, so remember that you don’t need to ‘scalp’ your trees and shrubs and that that a gentle prune or ‘shaping’ will not shock your trees and will lead to continued healthy growth.
Winter is also the time of year when many gardeners retreat to the warmth of the house and put their tools away for the year. But instead of just throwing your tools into the shed or garage while damp and dirty, Bulldog tools would recommend that you spend a few minutes cleaning them which will ensure they work well in the spring.
Clean any mud or grime off your tools with a stiff wire or bristle brush and then give them a wipe over with an oily rag (including any wooden handles). This will help reduce the chance of damp damaging the tools over winter. As mentioned before, sharpening your shears, secateurs, pruners, scissors and loppers will mean you get sharp, clean blades which will make future cutting much easier. A good quality sharpening stone can be seen on our parent company’s website and if used correctly should last for many years. If you are unsure of how to use a sharpening stone, then there are lots of instructional videos available on YouTube.
If you don’t have time to clean and sharpen all your tools, just give the wooden handles a quick wipe with a little linseed oil and this should prevent the timber drying out over winter. If you’ve used weed killers, fertilizers or other chemicals in your garden during the year, it is advisable to give your tools a thorough clean, because these substances can corrode the metal causing premature failure. Properly looked after, your Bulldog tools will give you years and years of faithful service with less breakages and continued performance in 2014.
Please remember to wear gloves and eye protection when sharpening your tools.