Wisdom in wearing garden gloves

By Marianne C. Ophardt, Special to the Tri-City HeraldAugust 17, 2012 

PASCO, Wash. -- This summer, I learned the importance of garden gloves, so I'd like to pass on my hard-earned wisdom.

Many gardeners don't like to wear garden gloves. Their various reasons for this include: not needing them, hands get too sweaty, gloves that don't fit well, and those that don't allow touch and dexterity needed for pulling weeds or planting.

I've used all these excuses myself, until several weeks ago when I was deadheading my lavender using the power hedger. It was hot out, and I didn't think I really gloves. I was momentarily distracted and ended up "hedging" off the tip of one of my fingers. If I had been wearing garden gloves, I doubt I would have been nursing my wounded digit for the next three weeks.

The irony (or foolishness) is that I have a variety of great garden gloves that I simply chose not to wear because I didn't think I needed them. Plus it was hot out. The good news is that I've learned my lesson, and now I'm wearing gloves even for the simplest garden tasks.

It's easy to find garden gloves in garden stores, seed catalogs and online. There also are several companies catering to the specific "glove" needs of gardeners.

One of these is Womanswork (womanswork.com). This is a company that for the last 25 years "has been creating durable, stylish women's work gloves and gardening gloves designed to fit a woman's hands."

In the past, women found that downsized men's gloves didn't fit particularly well. These gloves are designed specifically with women's hands in mind. Their original Womanswork glove was made out of pigskin leather with a cushioned palm. They were good for general yard work, but didn't have the flexibility and lighter weight desired by most gardeners.

Womanswork now carries a full line of garden gloves including their "Digger Gloves" with stretchable spandex fabric and padded micro-suede palms. Their "Womanswork Support Glove" is supposed to reduce "symptoms caused by arthritis, repetitive motion activities, and poor circulation." It can be worn alone or under other garden gloves.

While Womanswork may have been one of the earliest companies to focus on making quality gardening gloves, there are others, including the Mud Glove company (mudglove.com), that offer a variety of different types of garden gloves for male and female gardeners. Mud Glove notes that all of their "gloves are designed with specific purposes in mind" and their efforts are focused on "comfort and dependability."

For those gardeners who don't like gloves because they impair their sense of touch or they're too hot, "Simply Mud" might be the answer. These are made from nitrile coated nylon with a breathable nylon liner. If you have roses or other prickly plants to prune, the "Mud Gauntlet" is an elbow-length glove made from tough goatskin that protects your hands and forearms.

Our youngest gardeners should also be outfitted with garden gloves. That's why I bought some pink garden gloves for my granddaughters to wear. They love to dig in the dirt and help me in the garden. The companies mentioned earlier offer a line of children's garden gloves. "Kidswork Gloves" are made of cotton with faux leather reinforcement of the fingertips and palms, and "Mud Puddle" gloves are made with a cotton liner and coated with latex on the palm and the fingers.

I've learned my lesson. I'm wearing my garden gloves in the garden. How about you?

* Marianne C. Ophardt is a horticulturist for Washington State University Benton County Extension.

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