Gloves are defined as a fitted covering for the hand with a separate sheath for each finger and the thumb but I prefer to think of them as a gardener’s best friend. Gardening gloves are often overlooked as a fundamental “tool” for gardening while some have even relegated them to being a gardening item for wimps.
If you have come across any of the following close encounters I am sure you will appreciate your gloves as much as I do.
With apologies to all the cat lovers out there please forgive me, but here are two of my pet peeves as a gardener. The first thing is cats disguise their droppings with leaves and dirt so the unsuspecting gardener who recklessly ventures outside without gloves is at risk. The second is cats seem to find more pleasure in making my garden their litter box as opposed to their own backyard. Maybe the vast array of plants is our feline friends’ idea of the perfect rest area.
No doubt if you have accidentally had the misfortune of handling some cat waste sans gloves you will not soon forget it. That extra layer of protection that gloves give is never too much. An encounter with a cats “calling card” is one that you would not likely want to experience au natural, so protecting yourself with gloves can remedy the problem.
An insect can ruin your day. That dead honeybee with its stinger still intact which is just waiting to be liberated into one of your fingers or the praying mantis, ready to attack after being disturbed, can certainly turn an enjoyable session of gardening into a painful experience. Adult praying mantises are equipped with powerful mandibles which are strong enough to give you a small thrill (I should disclose here that praying mantis enthusiasts claim it is only just a nip) should they decide to use them after you intentionally or unintentionally pick one up. Considered by some to be a beneficial insect, I consider them an insect I can live without (for more information see: Praying Mantis: Friend or Foe?). Since they may have a different opinion on the subject, I make sure I don some “body armor” (my gloves) to insure I don’t experience firsthand how powerful their “nip” can be.
Thorns, Thistles and Skin Abrasions
Not only do gloves offer great protection against attacks by thorns thistles and splinters, they are great buffers for your skin against getting cuts, blisters, or developing calluses. This is a good thing because I do not know anyone who really wants to have hands that feel like sandpaper.
Then there are allergic reactions which result in blisters or rashes caused by toxic plants such as the infamous poison ivy, poison oak, sumac and stinging nettles.
Here a few other plants that are known to cause skin problems. Some of these will never produce an unpleasant condition for some gardeners while others can create adverse conditions like lingering rashes.
Acacia, Alstromeria, Arnica, Artichoke , Asparagus, Blackwood, Cedar, Celery, Chamomile, Chives, Chrysanthemum, Cyprus, Daffodil, Dandelion, English ivy, Fig, Garlic, Geranium, Ginkgo biloba,
Grevillea, Ivy, Kiwifruit, Lavender, Leek, Lemon, Lettuce, Lichens, Lily, Lime, Liverworts, Mango, Marigold, Mint, Onion, Parsley, Parsnip, Primula, Radiata pine, Ragweed, Rue, Strawflower, Sunflower, Tree fern, Tulip
Occasionally while gardening I long to be able to experience that tactile feeling I had as a child making mud pies without gloves. But alas I have encountered too many stickers, thorns, cat waste and sap that makes me break out in red bumps and have gotten too many cuts to hold onto that fantasy for very long. That is why I consider my pair of gloves to be one of my best friends in the garden.
Since glove sizing is not universal don’t buy gloves that are the wrong size. Always try them on first. They should be “snug’ while at the same time be comfortable and flexible. Avoid the “one size fits all” type because if they are too big they can slip off and/or allow debris to enter and if they are too small they can constrict and even cause blisters.
Endurance and Performance
These go hand in hand with finding the right glove for the right job. Ask yourself if you are going to be doing any heavy-duty gardening? Will you need more dexterity when you are pruning or tying up your clematis? Are you working in water or mud? Is it winter? Are you using fertilizers or other chemicals? Are you working with plants that have thorns? Unfortunately, there is no one glove that deals with each of these gardening tasks.
The Queen’s Favorite Gloves
Long gone are the days when all you could find were the old fashioned flowered cotton garden gloves. Today there is an unbelievable array of gardening gloves being offered. If you do not already have your own favorite type of gloves and are looking for something different I have listed two of my favorites and why.
Original Mud Gloves: These are the glove I use most often when I am gardening. To be honest I would be lost in my garden without them. They come in assorted colors but my favorite colors are violet (because it is the closest color to purple which is the color of royalty) and dark green. They are very durable and offer me quite a bit of protection while at the same time allowing a decent amount of flexibility. They are definitely mud resistant (until I have worn holes in their fingertips). The only fault I can find is that they are not 100% thorn resistant (though they are pretty good if I don’t grip stems with thorns too hard). They are comfortable because they are cotton lined, so my hands do not sweat while working on hot days. Another one of my favorite features is the fact that they are machine washable. The manufacturer states that they can be put in the dryer at a low to medium setting for about 20 minutes, but I prefer to air dry mine as that I think it helps extend the life of the latex rubber. I think they are reasonably priced around $10.00 a pair. I only wish they would sell the gloves individually since I am always wearing out my right glove way before my left one.
Bluettes: (Made by Mapa Pioneer) (See A Gardener’s True Blue Friend)