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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Handy Garden Tools

They are two of the best tools in my gardening tool box. Engineering marvels, really.

I can grasp, grip, pull, pinch, hold, scoop, smooth, and pat with them, and I never lose them in the garden.

They are my hands.

And by a gardeners’s hands, you can know the gardener.

Which type of gardener are you?

1. The “point with the hand and tell someone else where to plant” gardener.

I think of Katharine S. White when I think of this kind of gardener. I believe she always had someone else do the actually gardening for her, though she herself had her own ideas on what to plant. There is a picture of her in the book, Two Gardeners: Katharine S. White and Elizabeth Lawrence -- Friendship in Letters, and part of the caption is “she did not ‘dress down’ to the garden”.

I would guess she didn’t get her hands terribly dirty either, but perhaps just used them to manipulate some scissors or small pruners to gather a few flowers to enjoy indoors.

2. The “I always wear gloves to protect my hands when I garden no matter what” gardener.

This type of gardener skips those tasks that can’t be done with gloves on, like seed sowing. She (or I suppose it could be he) just doesn’t do gardening work that is best done bare-handed. She (or he) may have spent as much on a manicure or maybe even faux nails in a given week as on plant material in the garden.

3. The “I started out with gloves, now where are they” gardener.

You know how sometimes you start out with gloves on, and then you have to take them off because you just can’t do what you need to do with gloves between your hands and the plant or seed or dirt or whatever? And then you move on and keep gardening and see something that you should wear gloves to do, like pull some thistle, and that’s when you realize your gloves are clear over by another flower bed and your hands are now dirty. That’s this type of gardener.

4. The “gloves are the exception, not the rule” gardener.

This type of gardener generally prefers to work barehanded and only wears gloves when absolutely necessary, like when thorns or poison ivy are involved. They accept that their hands are going to get dirty, and figure they can wash them up just as well as they can wash up a pair of gloves.

Regardless of our feelings regarding gardening gloves, we should all make sure to take care of our hands, because they really are our best gardening tools.

By your hands, what type of gardener are you?


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Don't forget to enter the drawing to win a copy of Nightshade by Susan Wittig Albert, if you haven't done so already. But you’d better hurry! The drawing here at May Dreams Gardens closes at noon on March 27, 2008. Tomorrow someone is going to win a book, maybe it is you?!


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By my hands, I am a Number 3 type gardener, with some tendencies to Number 4. That's my hand in the picture above, after I had planted all the violas and panises in containers last Friday, bare-handed, obviously.

42 comments:

Gail said...

Carol,

I am a #3 with leanings toward #4...sometimes gloves are too thick. Now that I bought my handy dandy fanny pack for tools I can carry my gloves with me;-)

I always hoped that Elizabeth Lawrence was a get her hands dirty kind of gardener.

Gail

Daisy said...

I suppose I am a four, but my mom would much rather have me be a two or three. She grew up on a farm in Alabama and I've seen her garden my whole life - but you will not find a more ardent advocate for hats and sunscreen and hand lotion and gloves! Which is why she insists on sending me gloves - as though we might not have such things in Montana...

Melanie said...

I'm a number 3. I was hoping to get better at leaving my gloves behind by using this little yellow clip that's supposed to keep your gloves clipped to you. Unfortunately I usually forget the clip too.

My hands are cleaner than yours are (by a bit) today.

Vanillalotus said...

When I started to read this post I was thinking you were going to say something different. I thought it was another post that I have seen other bloggers write about their favorite garden tools. Like a shovel or hoe. And when I started to read the first paragraph I thought to myself that my hands are my favorite tools. I laughed when I read further and that was what you were talking about.

I am a #4 with tendencies towards #3 but would be like to be able to dress like a #1 ha. I hate using gloves when I have to transplant and seed and just general things. I do use gloves when it's stuff that will rough up my hands or cut me. I don't mind the dirt at all just the cuts.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I'm #5 - wear gloves as much as possible, but never had a professional manicure, don't own a bottle of nail polish, just can't stand the feeling of dried mud on the skin. (Maybe I've got sensory problems.) Bare hands for minute seed-sowing & seedling thinning only. Wears mismatched gloves because of holes worn through glove fingers. (I know, I always have to be different.)

garden girl said...

I was a 4, well actually I think I was a 5 - didn't wear gloves even when I should have. . .

but DH has harrassed me enough that now I'd say I'm a 3. And now that I make my living gardening, I wear gloves a lot more. My hands still get a lot of wear and tear, even wearing gloves as much as I do now. I like the nytril coated ones in bright colors because they're easier to find when I set them down somewhere. Last year I wore out 3 pairs of gardening gloves.

VP said...

Hi Carol - I'm definitely type 4! I can't bear not to be feeling the soil. I call it my dirt therapy ;)

Kathy said...

I try to be a 3, but I'm really a 4. I don't mind getting my hands dirty, but I hate getting my feet wet or muddy.

Heather's Garden said...

I started out as a 2, but soon figured out that there's a lot of stuff that doesn't work with gloves on. So I'm definitely a 3 who gets her exercise retrieving her gloves from the strange places she leaves them around the yard. Like the wheelbarrow under all the leaves.

Earth Girl said...

I'm a 4 aat home. At work, I'm a 3. I always leave the garden shed wearing gloves, but about half an hour later, I'm trying to find them.

Nancy said...

I'm number 3...I go through more pairs of gloves in a year, because I tend to lose them, or the dog hides them...sigh.

Somethings just have to be done barehanded, but gloves are generally a good idea.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I am a 3 with leanings toward 4. By the end of a project or the day which ever comes first I am usually wondering where my gloves were dropped.

I do use a lot of lotion on my hands to compensate for not wearing my gloves. I will never forget my Mother telling me my hands were "so rough". Ha...

Robin's Nesting Place said...

I love to feel the dirt but don't like to get dirty. So I use snug fitting surgical gloves. I also don't want to take any chances of coming across a spider bare handed.

I've never worn false nails or even had a manicure, so getting dirty has nothing to do with my nails.

If it weren't for the surgical gloves I'd probably go barehanded because I really dislike any other kind of glove.

So, which number am I?

Mary said...

I'm most certainly a number 3. My nail fills at the salon don't last long...

Shady Gardener said...

I'm beginning to learn to be a #3. I'd always been a #4. I didn't even OWN a pair of gloves until about 8 years ago, and those were "token."

Gradually I've learned to wear them more often, largely due to the fact that I've made several visits to my favorite Dr.'s office with cuts, punctures, rose thorns too deep...

I now make shopping for gloves a "fun," and wearing them is feeling much more natural. :-)

This was a very nice post. I've enjoyed the responses, too!

Lee17 said...

In Texas, I am a 3, because the limestone ground tears my hands to shreds...in other states with actual dirt, I am a 4. I love the dirt...I know it was a good day gardening when I am covered in dirt and have to rinse off with the hose before stepping foot indoors.

Dave said...

I'd have to say I'm between type 3 and 4 somewhere. I used to always wear gloves but there are so many things you can't do with them on. I still wear them whenever I have to do any heavy duty work to prevent blisters or when planting trees and plants where I don't need precision. I agree, you definitely can't plant seeds with gloves!

beckie said...

I am a #3, especially since last year. I had several infected splinters and thorns from going without!

Leslie said...

I'm a 3...our soil is really drying and I've scraped and cut myself more than my fair share so I have trained myself to wear gloves. I do take them off to plant seeds,tie supports and water. And I have several pairs of gloves ranging from Foxgloves for when I need fine motor control to cotton for lightweight work to leather for thorns or any sharp stuff. Now if I could just stop scraping my arms all the time...

Pam/Digging said...

I'm definitely in the 4 camp, Carol. As you'll no doubt be able to tell by the dirt under my nails when you come to Austin next week.

OldRoses said...

Number 4 all the way!!!!!! I take great pride in having dirty hands and nails nine months of the year. Actually more than that now that I have taken up winter sowing and houseplants.

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Like Oldroses and Pam I'm number 4 all the way. I have several pairs of gloves but hardly ever wear them, just can't be bothered. I forget to put them on, forget where I left them, and for many jobs their really not all that erm handy. ;-)

Fun post my dear!

Sherry at the Zoo said...

Gloves? I can never find a pair when I need them, so I never wear them. Actually did you know the dirt is healthy for you? They are finding out that those who work with dirt, manure etc are less prone to certain cancers. Cool, huh! Apparently it's healthy for the immune system.

ourfriendben said...

Like VP, I can't bear not to have my bare hands in the dirt, touching the plants, etc. (Sensualists of the world, unite!) There are only two exceptions: Like Robin, I don latex gloves, but only when pulling poison ivy. And I bought a fabulous pair of "thorn-proof" gloves on a garden tour of England and Wales years ago--the gloves and two autographed books by Alan Bloom were the only things I brought back!--and wear them when I'm tackling anything prickly.

Kris at Blithewold said...

Carol, I like to tell people who stare askance that my hands have had a "trench manicure". I predict the fashion for dirty undernails will soon sweep the nation and be available at fine salons and garden centers everywhere. Number 4 all the way!

tina said...

there are a lot of #4 types!

tina said...

that is me too-forgot to say!

Anthony said...

I'm a #5 - The "No gloves on and rolls around in the dirt until it's in my socks and underwear" gardener.
:)

Susan Hagen said...

I'm somewhere between a 3 and a 4 though I often persuade myself wear gloves so I won't have to listen to lectures from doctors as they patch up gory wounds.

I wear heavy leather gloves for rough work and seem to wear out a pair or two per season. For fine work I go barehanded. I'm even getting less squeamish about the thought of contacting worms.

I am a barely reformed nailbiter so am not vain about my hands and nails and have never minded getting dirty. I always have a bar of Lava soap at the kitchen sink for cleanup. Actually, my mother used to bathe me with Lava when I was a grubby child.

Karen said...

I would have to say I'm #3, but then again I sometimes can't find my gloves to begin with. Sometimes I just "take a walk" through the garden and that's when I need to do something; pull a weed for example and of course I don't have my gloves.

artistsgarden said...

I am a number three - unfortunately the time laps between starting with gloves and then putting them somewhere is very short - but I always have them with me... somewhere. (I thought you were going to post about rakes and hoes - hands was nice)
Karen

SuzyQ said...

I think I am a 3. I start off with gloves because I don't like the dirt under my nails and because our soil is very sticky with clay - but after a bit the gloves come off - it is like I have to warm myself up to the idea of getting dirty, but once I do - I love it! :)

CJ said...

I'm a three-ish. Today was garden clean up day and I wore gloves all day! But I usually skip the gloves while I'm weeding because I can't yank as hard as I need to.

Very interesting post & the comments are just as great!

Muum said...

I'm definitely a 3- I wear gloves when gardening 95% of the time. I buy plastic disposable gloves and even wear two pair at a time if I'm doing something particularly dirty.

kate smudges said...

I spend first few days in the garden as a # 3 cleaning up dead plants, but then revert to #4. That's usually because at least one of my gloves, or sometimes both, end up in the compost bin.

Besides dirt is good for our mental health.

Meems said...

For many years I was #4 but my hands now look older than the rest of me from the abuse. I've become #3 and have several pairs of gloves. I still constantly take them on and off throughout my time in the garden.

There's nothing like "feeling" the dirt. I work in a light amount of olive oil to moisten my hands after a long day in the garden. It works wonders!
Meems @Hoe&Shovel

Carol said...

Well, if I were to average it out, I'd say most gardeners are around a 3.5. It just goes to show, you can tell a gardener by their hands. No 1's or 2's in this bunch. We all (mostly) seem to relish the idea of getting our hands dirty!

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

ricki said...

Back in July of 07, I wrote a blog entry about hands (of which I was once vain) and what they say about the gardener. If you would like to read it, hop on over to: http://www.bannersbyricki.com/archives/category/gardening/page/2 and scroll down to forget the green thumb
I always enjoy the lively discussions provoked by your topics.

Curtis said...

Im a bare handed gardener. The only time I wear gloves is when I will hurt my hands like thorny plants or using a shovel.

chuck b. said...

Right now I have some dirt on my left index finger and thumb that's been there for three days and won't wash out.

I'm a 4, 3ish type too. My skin, especially my hands, get very dry and hand lotion is my life. I like to wear gloves, but the pairs I have now are ratty and old, and I'd rather not wear them because they are gross inside. I should buy new gloves but when I'm shopping at the nursery, gloves always seem like a want, not a need.

I hate it when I'm wearing gloves, and they get wet and my hands are inside wet garden gloves.

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Rosemarie said...

Alright I'm a #2 ... I started off as a #3 but then I get scratches that get really red (I may be allergic) and then I get paper cuts from the grasses ... blah blah. I know, I'm a wimp (it has nothing to do with a manicure believe me!). If I'm doing something delicate, I will go barehanded. But if I'm cleaning up, then the work gloves go on.