Saturday, February 5, 2011

Hand Protection

If you garden very much, you have a collection of garden gloves.  For the most part, they each have their good and bad points.  Below are photos of my current motley group and my rating of those gloves. 

This set is a leather work glove with some material.  Work gloves are not designed for most gardening.  Alas, the are designed for heavy work.  They protect the hands and fingers from most sharp objects, abrasions and pinching.  They are great for times when you are pulling, lifting and moving large rough objects and debris.  Every gardener should have a pair of leather work gloves for these purposes. 

Another pair of work gloves - these are all leather.  Because gardeners work in wet, often muddy conditions, leather will first become water logged and when dry they become very stiff.  I suppose I could saddle soap and other leather softening treatments, but, truthfully I'll never get it done.  When leather gloves become hard, they will rub raw places on your fingers.  I've never had a pair of work gloves fit my small hand.  This means they will rub and make raw areas.  All-leather work gloves do not wash well.       

There are many makes and prices for these material/rubber coated garden gloves.  They cost from really cheap to really expensive.  From using over the years:  Really cheap ones do not last long enough to make cheap worthwhile.  Expensive doesn't last any longer than lesser priced. This design is the workhorse of garden gloves and every gardener should have a pair. 

They are perfect for detailed garden work - planting, weeding and working in wet conditions.  They fit and conform to the hand.  Specifics needed:  The cuff needs to be long enough to cover wrists.  They should fit snug but not tight - this closes off circulation.  The back of the hand should not be covered in rubber - because this allows air flow.  I use the word rubber but most are probably another newer substance.  They tend to blow holes in the tips of the fingers when weeding.  
These very soft garden leather gloves fit nicely and are comfortable.  They also come in an array of prices.  They work well for dry conditions.  They will not hold up to wet rough conditions, but darn if they're not pretty. 

This shows another pair of leather/material gloves, although these are called garden gloves.  These are suede and tend to absorb more moisture than the slick leather but they are more comfortable.  Under normal use, substantial leather gloves are designed to prevent holes in the tips of the fingers.     
I simply had to include this (where in the world did the mate go?) cloth garden glove.  These are available most anywhere and often quite inexpensive.  This one has little dots of rubber for gripping.  There are no particularly good gardening points about these little fabric gloves.  They don't keep your hands dry or clean, they get holes easily, but wash good.  Maybe wear them on the days when you want to look cute. 

This is the expensive pair.  The good points is the back of the hand material is stretchy and breathes but is strong.  The leather is soft but strong and has a rubber dot system applied.  The wrists are covered and I really love the tab that Velcro closes to keep debris from entering the glove.  The negative is they blew a hole in the finger within a couple of weeks which pretty much negates their effectiveness.  This was one thing the advertisement promised not to happen.  It was a real disappointment and the lack of reply when I contacted the distributor cinched my displeasure.  I'll look for similar attributes in a cheaper glove.
Rose Leather Gauntlet Glove
This is the Woman's Work gauntlet rose glove, but there are other brands and designs.

The long thick leather gauntlet gloves are used for handling rose and other thorn bushes.  Not inexpensive, they will pay for themselves if thorn bearing bushes are a part of your garden.

Where to buy:  Most nurseries, garden centers, hardware and big box stores carry garden gloves.  They're developing new materials and designs all the time and that means better quality and choices.  You will always need several different kinds of gloves for the many different garden tasks. 

My must have for weeding and working in the soil garden gloves:
  1. Palm side should be water proof and that substance should have texture for gripping.
  2. Back of hand should be a stretch breathable material.
  3. Machine washable.
  4. Velcro fastener around the wrist to keep out debris.
  5. Finger tips should be reinforced.
  6. Seams should be reinforced but not be thick enough to rub the hand raw.
  7. Fit snugly but not restrict circulation (try on gloves before buying and bend the fingers to test).
  8. Not expensive.
  9. The color should be something bright (neon) so if I lay them down in the yard I can find them again (prior to mowing or mulching them).
  10. Ideally, they should last all summer.  One can dream!
Helpful hints gone wrong:
  1. I once tried the hint to slather my hands with heavy cream prior to putting on my gloves (a spa treatment while gardening).  So wrong.  Not only does dirt glob on it - it's almost impossible to get the gloves off and they must be washed. 
  2. Dust baby powder or corn starch in the gloves to help with sweat and getting them off.  It also tends to glob although with less messy results.
  3. Wrap a band aid over each nail to keep them clean and blowing out the gloves.  Uncomfortable, wastes a good band aid and doesn't work.
  4. Put the gloves in the dryer.  Leather becomes wooden - Some rubber types melt, become sticky - causes general material failure.  I always just lay flat out of sun and heat.
  5. If buying from Internet sources, make sure you are familiar with the brand, style and sizing. 
Helpful hints gone right:
I don't like wearing garden gloves, but I do because. . .
  1. There are just too many dangerous micro things in the soil that can enter small cuts and cause illness.
  2. We have cats (need I say more.)
  3. It takes days to get soil and plant stains off my skin and from under my fingernails.
  4. Gloves protect hands from sun damage.
  5. Men and women should try on and buy a glove that fits no matter if it says Men or Women.  Men's gloves tend to have longer fingers and be wider even if they are classed "small". 

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