Tuesday, May 2, 2017

World-wide Naked Gardening Day

Protective Gear for Desert Gardeners 

I knew there was a drawback to desert landscaping. I can't participate in World Naked Gardening Day because it's too dangerous.

Mark Storey, the founder of WNDG writes of "the innocent joy of working with the earth as nature intended".  He may frolic through the English landscape nekkid as a jaybird, but nature in the desert does its best to leave gardeners blistered, dehydrated, punctured, and cooked medium rare.
Spiny things and tender flesh are not a good mix.

I have to protect myself from the plants, the tools I use, and nature. 

Skin Protection: Thoroughly cover yourself with sweat-proof sunscreen, SPF 30 or higher. Don't forget the back of your ears and under your chin. Wear long-sleeved shirts against sunburn and scratches.

Head protection: An inexpensive, broad-brimmed straw hat will keep the sun off your head and let some air circulate under the crown. I use cheap cloth or straw cowboy hats and dip them in water for extra cooling.

Hand protection: Cloth gardening gloves are no protection against thorns and sharp rocks. The palms and finger portions - at a minimum - should be leather. All-leather gloves will protect your whole hand from minor scratches.

Thorn-resistant gloves, usually made of shiny black plastic, may work against rose thorns, but the fine spines of cactus slide right through the glove. Tongs are the best way to handle cactus. I use kitchen tongs for small cactus pieces, barbeque tongs for medium ones, and the log tool from the fireplace for large ones.

Eye protection: For normal gardening, wrap-around sunglasses will protect your eyes from glare and branches. If you are using power tools, such as a chipper-shredder, wear impact-resistant full coverage eye protectors that are sold for use with woodworking tools.

Foot and Shin Protection: Gardening is not the place for cute flowered sandals with flowered straps. Real gardeners need real shoes with soles and full coverage for the foot.
High-top shoes are better because they protect your ankles from scratches and biting ants.
String trimmers and lawnmowers throw debris at your feet and shins. Thick denim pants will protect you better than shorts.
If you are trimming in a rocky area, shin guards or extra-high boots will protect you against flying pebbles.

Hearing protection: If you are using a shredder, a chainsaw, a string trimmer or even a lawnmower, your ears will be ringing after a few minutes. Of the hearing protectors I have used, only the earmuff type block the noise enough to be worth their price. The earbud kind, with the foam cones you stick in your ear canal, was annoying and didn't block sound.

Venomous Critter Protection:  The gear listed above will do a good job protecting you against snakes, scorpions, centipedes and spiders.  Most of them will leave the area when you start making noise and moving things around.  Watch where you put your hands and be extra careful when you are moving the last few pieces of any pile.

So, do we ever get naked? About the only time desert gardeners are naked in the garden is when they are headed for the pool to cool off, after stripping off 10 pounds of protective gear.

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