Visitors tour the Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve in spring (Photo by Carolyn Masson)

Visitors tour the Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve in spring (Photo by Carolyn Masson)

Winter workshop at the Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve

Winter tool cleaning workshop at the Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve, BC (Photo by NCC)

Winter tool cleaning workshop at the Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve, BC (Photo by NCC)

For gardeners, winter is a welcome time to take care of tasks that get overlooked in the busy summer months. At the Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve, January is a perfect time to clean and care for the many tools used to tend the Garry oak meadows and Native Plant Nursery.

On January 22, the Nature Conservancy of Canada hosted a winter workshop for people interested in learning about proper garden tool care, pruning basics and winter plant identification. Despite the steady drizzle, 16 enthusiastic participants joined workshop host Todd Carnahan to learn the proper techniques for cleaning, oiling and sharpening garden tools.

A young participant ties flagging tape on shovels at the Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve, BC (Photo by NCC)

A young participant ties flagging tape on shovels at the Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve, BC (Photo by NCC)

The group learned by doing, helping to care for about 50 pieces of the preserve’s important landscaping equipment. Shovels, hoes, secateurs and long-handled pruners were scrubbed clean, filed to sharpness and wiped with a protective layer of mineral oil. By the end of the morning, the equipment shed was filled with tools ready and waiting for spring stewardship activities to start up again.

Todd’s top tool tips:

  • Regular maintenance makes work easier and tools last longer.
  • Sharp tools are safer for people and plants.
  • Remove all grime and dirt before sharpening and finish by oiling with mineral oil to prevent rust over the winter.
  • Useful tools for sharpening edges include the bastard file, portable carbide sharpener, hone and a bench-mounted vise.

After the workshop, the group was treated to an interpretive walk around the Garry oak meadow, a sensitive area that is normally off-limits to the public.

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