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Gardening is tough on hands: Protect them with Gloves!

It is that time of year when gardeners face the inevitable; the season is closing down and it’s time to clean and prep those tools for a winter rest. It is also the time when we begin to turn our thoughts to procuring gifts for friends and family for the holidays. This raises two intriguing questions. First, what is Scott rambling on about now? Secondly, how can he possibly link these two incongruous points?

I have many favorite tools in the garden, but the most readily available, most often used tools in my garden are… my hands. Digging, dividing, weeding, spreading mulch; sure there are actual tools that are designed to do these jobs, but no matter how many tools I have I often end up just doing these jobs, not just by hand, but with hands. So while we are thinking of protecting our tools (and with an eye to finding a great gift for our gardening buddies), let’s review garden gloves and find the right gloves for you (or Mom, or Dad, or Sis…)

First of all they need to protect our hands. But from what? As always, the right tool for the job makes the job easier and more pleasant, so lets look at different jobs and the right glove for each.

Choosing from a variety of Gloves

For general garden use there are a LOT of different types of gloves. Dad always bought us the cotton work gloves; cheap, abundant, but they wear quickly and weigh a TON when wet, and holding all that water, chill your hands fast in inclement weather. And NO protection against thorns and prickers. An option, but not a good one. There are the composites, leather and cotton together; wear is better but the wet part is still an issue and only minimally better thorn protection. All leather gloves are another step up, but only a little. Still get wet, but they wear better and offer o.k. protection from thorns…

The gloves I see on the market that I think are great are these new spandex/ lycra composites. As a chunky handed male, most gloves fit me pretty well, but ladies have had a hard time finding gloves that fit. Companies like Foxgloves have come up with one-size-fits-all, stylish, colorful gloves that fit PERFECTLY, have no absorption at all (wash your hands with these still on!), wick moisture away, and because of the hard wearing nylon on palms and fingers, last with hard use for at least the season (building a stone wall last winter I went through three pairs of leather gloves in a month). These are great gloves for the ladies, but a little girlish for most guys. Fellas, if you want the same features in a more masculine glove, try Bionic gloves. They’ll look familiar if you’ve ever watched sports, as this is the same company that supplies both the MLB and NFL (they make gloves for EVERYTHING). Pretty tough and very convenient…

If wetness is the key factor of concern (and in the winter and early spring they sure are) rubber coated gloves are a sure fire way to keep body, mind and hand comfortable. Mudgloves are leading the pack here. They make a heavily coated glove that sheds water like the proverbial duck’s back; lots of color choice again, and they won’t break the bank. Keeping hands dry while mixing chemicals is a whole different game and requires a nitrile glove (chemically as well as water impervious); while Mudgloves does make one, I think this job is best handled in a disposable manner with a box of nitrile disposable gloves (available at most pharmacies). A specialist glove for a specialist job…

Gloves for gardening with roses

Speaking of which, when handling roses or other thorny customers, a gauntlet makes more sense than regular garden gloves. No, not from that suit of armor; there are rose gauntlets with protection to the elbow that will stop even the blood-thirstiest thorn from drinking freely. Sure it seems like a luxury now while you are sitting in front of the computer, but wait until you are up to your armpits in a beach rose or barberry and then tell me if it’s a luxury or a necessity. Yeah I thought so; order a pair for that rose gardener on your list while you are at it. They will be thanking you for years to come…

Gardening gloves for those who don't like gloves

Maybe you don’t like gloves (or that curmudgeon on the list is just too tough to wear ‘em). The answer there may be one of the new spray-on gloves; a silicon spray that seals those hands from the grime (and oils from things like poison ivy), making clean-up a breeze. A glove for those that don’t like gloves…

So think about those hands as they are mousing and typing away; soon enough you will be calling on them to haul leaves from underneath shrubs, mix anti-dessicants and haul wood and shovel snow. So will most everyone on that Xmas list. Let’s all make sure we work protected out there; we want those fingers to bring you back here time and again, so get the gloves you need now. Your hands will thank you…

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