With this gorgeous warm weather we’ve been having, everyone is heading outside with wild abandon to get gardening! But I’m warning you that you need to protect yourself. In the midst of all of the flowers and butterflies, there are dangers my friend and lots of them!
Now, I know that you are sick of cold weather and just want to get outside. That’s how I feel too. By taking a few precautions, we can all have a safer, much more enjoyable garden season this summer!
Here Comes the Sun
When I was younger, gardening seemed like the perfect opportunity to work on my tan. As time went on though, I started to see that the sun wasn’t necessarily my friend. I began to seek the shade. I started wearing a straw hat every day. Some logger friends of mine had always worn old dress shirts to keep cool and cover the skin. I started doing the same. These days you can even purchase clothing with an spf factor built right in.
If you plan on working all day in the sun, try to work in shady areas in the most intense part of the day. Typically between 10 and 2 using the day. Keep hydrated and take breaks as needed. Don’t forget to apply sunblock throughout the day.
Bugs, Oh My!
In Maine, there is this brief span of time before the black flies come out. A time when you can easily forget about them. Just as they start to die down, then come the dreaded mosquitoes! These can be worse in wooded areas. Thankfully there are some pretty decent natural bugs sprays out there. I’ve found that a bug net is effective if you can tolerate wearing one. Of course these ravenous, blood-hungry insects will bite right through your shirt so sometimes working outside is a bad idea. Freshly washed hair smells really nice to them too. If you plan on being outside, put off the hair washing for later.
Ticks are a huge concern around here. Try tucking your pants into your socks. Do regular tick checks. Nymph ticks can be the size of a grain of sand. Quite a few essential oils are good for keeping ticks at bay like Rose Geranium, lavender and Texas cedar. Another trick is using diluted white vinegar sprayed on your pants. Getting sick from ticks is serious business. The consequences of Lyme disease can ruin your life, so take as many precautions as you can.
Leaves of Three
If you’ve ever come in contact with poison ivy, poison oak, hogweed or any other similar plant, you know how miserable a reaction can be. A number of years ago I came in contact with one of these and proceeded to accidentally smear the plants oil all over my body. I was out of work for days and even needed a Prednisone shot! Just become familiar with the plants that are a problem in your area. If you come in contact with anything suspicious, wash your clothes in hot water. Clean your hands, tools, pets, anything that has potentially come in contact with the plants.
Comfortable, practical gardening clothes are one of the best ways of protecting yourself in the garden. Canvas work pants or jeans are ideal, although I’ve been know to do some early morning lettuce picking in my pajamas!
Many of you love the feeling of dirt on your hands. A good pair of gloves can go a long way to protecting your hands against cracks, splinters, cuts and blisters. As you can see, I keep a glove around for every job. Soft leather is my personal fave and a nice rubber coated glove is great for keeping your hands dry. Line them with a thin pair of knit gloves, and your hands will stay warm on colder days.
Footwear is extremely important for protecting your feet and your back. I’ve noticed that if I’m not wearing the proper shoes for the level of gardening that I’m doing, I pay for it later with sore feet and fatigue. Light garden chores generally require no special shoes. Some jobs may only require sneakers, while edging is so much easier when wearing work boots. A good pair of boots will last for years to come for most home gardeners. A pair of rubber boots can make it possible to garden in wet weather. It’s no fun having wet feet!
My Aching Back!
One of the first things that bothers me in the garden is my back. Most of the time it’s because I’m working in the wrong position or leaning over when I should be sitting. This is where being mindful of your posture is very important.
Items like a kneeling pad can prevent aching knees and are comfortable to sit on too. I try not to work on my knees very much anyway. A garden seat is an excellent way to do gardening tasks need a lower level. The seat is great for harvesting lettuce and makes gardening during pregnancy possible. True story!
One of my favorite indispensable garden tools is ‘the claw’. Pictured above is my garden cultivator. I use it for so many things. When edging, I break up the sod with it instead of using my shoulder. It makes it so much easier especially with bigger chunks. You can use it to distribute mulch or compost. It can also be used to break up masses of weeds.
Remember, take care of your tools and they will help you in the garden. Keep them clean and sharp. Keep them nearby and ready to go. For tips on keeping your tools in tip top shape, go to How To Take Care Of Hand Tools.
I have been through many things in my years of gardening. I’ve been attacked multiple times by fire ants. Attacked and bitten three times by a customers psycho cat. Still have the scars to prove it. Come in contact with horrible plants that cause raised, painful, oozing blisters. These are just a few examples of why it’s important to be careful out there. Just take a few precautions before you start and your gardening experience will be so much more enjoyable!
Along with last weeks frog emergence, we now have frog eggs floating in our vernal pool. The rhubarb is just starting to put on leaves. It grows so fast! Daffodils are up about 5″. Flowers soon!
Found these cute little baby garlics in last years garlic bed. At first I didn’t know what they were. We quickly moved them to the new garlic bed to let them grow there for the summer.
Lettuce picking is in full swing around here. Wintered over salad greens are the best! We have been raking leaves and trying to get rid of all of these acorns. What a job! Are there any gardening topics that you would like me to write about? Leave me a message in a comment, I would love to hear from you! Get out there and be careful. But most of all, enjoy it. Thanks for coming along this week!