By Debbie Roland and Emmy Ulmschneider, Master Gardeners
As Master Gardeners, we all spend long hours outside, often working alone, and working with sharp tools.
So, let’s start with fashion for gardeners. It is important to dress the part. Long pants, sensible shoes, hat, gloves, and long-sleeved shirt are needed. In summer, that shirt is a sun shirt to protect from the sun and a wide brimmed hat to shield the face. In winter loose fitting layers and a snug hat keep you warm and can be taken off easily. Many gardeners prefer slip-on garden clogs but the idea here is to have shoes that can get wet, fit well, and are comfortable. If you have outside only garden shoes, check them before you put them on to make sure unwanted spiders or insects are not hiding inside. Sunscreen and sunglasses are a must for any season. My favorite gardening clothes are ones that are not fashionable anymore but still have life!
Gloves are essential to protect from sharp seeds, spines, or toxins of plants and give one a sense of confidence for pulling up weeds or reaching into dark corners. Every gardener has their personal favorite kind of glove. Keep them clean, many are washable, and if you store them outside, check to see that there are no hidden creatures inside before you put them on. When they get holes, it is time for a new pair.
Whatever the tool you use, there is a safe, appropriate way to use it. All tools are easier to use when they are clean and sharp. If you are working with another person, always be aware of hand placement before you cut. The winter season is a good time to sharpen, oil and get your tools ready for the spring.
Just as there is an appropriate way to use tools, there is also a right way to lift and move when you are pruning, weeding, deadheading or digging or working in the garden. There is no prize for lifting the heaviest trug of weeds into a dumpster! So, be aware as you work so that you can work the next day without any discomfort.
Remember that gardening is hard work! It is hard to work all morning without having had breakfast! Make sure that you are hydrated. Stop often in the summer to drink water and cool off. In summer, work in the cool of the morning or evening and in winter, if it is cold, limit the length of time you spend outside.
And finally, remember that being outside restores the mind as well as the body! Stop often to smell the roses, watch a hummer or butterfly fly, or just rest in the beauty that you have created.
If you have questions, please call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700 for more gardening information. Additional information is available at https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu and westtexasgardening.org.