5 Best Ways Gardeners can Tend to Themselves: Tips for Healthier Gardeners

Comments by Rob Hardwicke, president and product master at Awakening Mineral Therapies

Healthy gardener's hands

Healthy gardener's hands

When it comes to spending time outside, leisurely hours in the garden are like no other.  Whether in the cool, damp solitude at dawn or the warm, still moments at dusk in summer, feeling the rich earth in your hands stimulates not only the senses but also your soul.  With gardening season in full swing, I thought I’d pass along a few tips to guard you against some of the nuisances that tend to affect all of us gardeners from time to time.

Here are five tips we all can take to make our gardening healthier (in reverse order, of course):

5. Garden in moderation — Gardening can be good exercise, but be careful.

We all get excited during springtime for the warmer months ahead and the pleasures of the outdoors. Spending only 30 minutes of cultivating and weeding will burn up to 120 calories.  That same 30 minutes spent on spading, raking and more physical activity can burn nearly double that.  Crouching, kneeling and (we hope) standing back up again all can be beneficial to joints and the muscle fibers that hold those joints together.  Four hours of any of this, especially if you’re not accustomed to all that contorting, tugging and digging, can lead to sore backs, sore knees and sore hands.  Be sure you’re active enough to burn those calories yet not strain your back.

Tip: Breathe deeply; admire your work.  While admiring and harvesting flowers and vegetables may not burn a lot of calories, they are excellent ways to reduce stress.  Fresh air fills the lungs with new life as well as a sense of accomplishment.

4.  Protect yourself from bugs — itchy bumps are not the only risk

Bites from the little “winged vampire”, otherwise known as the mosquito, and other bugs can leave you more than an itchy bump.  With the West Nile virus gaining a stronger foothold each year (not to mention Lyme’s Disease from ticks), the onus is on the gardener to seek protection. While West Nile and Lyme’s Disease are comparatively rare, they are not to be trifled with.

Tip: Discourage those who would fly aware with your blood.  DEET is the most surefire method of protecting yourself.  DEET, developed in World War II by the US military, has been in commercial use since the introduction of the Ford Edsel (1958), and is used in most mosquito repellents, such as Cutter’s, Off! or the little bottle of Bug Juice from REI.  While it’s perfectly safe for adults, kids shouldn’t use it in concentrations over 30%, and everyone should wash it off once they’re done in the yard.  Avon’s Skin So Soft also is a classic.  One of my nephews suggests eating copious quantities of garlic (but he may be discouraging all social interaction in addition to mosquito bites).

3.  Beware of bacteria — and many fertilizers: Take precautions.

In addition to nurturing your prize tomatoes and turnips, fecund soil can grow tetanus-causing bacteria, too.  Take care not avoid problems with smaller critters such as parasites and bacteria.  Cuts on your skin allow parasites to take root in you and should be avoided (as though you were out seeking them, right!)?  And with pesticides of the chemical variety, keep the stuff away from your bare skin — and from your lungs.  Inhaling these substances will place it directly into your bloodstream and then throughout the body.

Tip(s):  a) If you haven’t had a tetanus shot in the past 10 years, it’s time for a booster, and b) keep your hands covered and wear long sleeves and long pants when messing with chemicals.  Better yet, try organic gardening — it will save money and you won’t have to use potentially harmful chemicals at all.  But regardless of whether you’re organic or chemical, always, always, always wash your hands when you’re done.  Sure, you don’t want to be dirty in the house, but more importantly, you want to guard against toxoplasmosis.  This is an infectious disease brought about by a parasite in contaminated soil, and can be a very serious problem if you have a weak immune system or a pregnant.

2.  Wear a hat — sun protection is serious business (even for nudists).

We’ve learned a lot about protecting the skin from uva and uvb radiation over the past 40 years, and there’s no excuse for you not to protect yourself.  Damaged skin becomes cracked, red, painful and dry, not to mention the long-term accelerated wrinkling process and potential for skin cancer.  If you’re planning to be out in the sun for more than 15 minutes, you need to have some type of skin protection.

Tip: Wearing a wide brimmed hat, long sleeves and pants certainly will protect you.  If it is a warm day and wearing long pants seems like a terrible idea, then a good cream with a sun protection factor (SPF) between 12 and 30 (the spf strength depending on the body part(s) you are protecting) is a good idea.  Reapply sunscreen every two hours or so to be well protected.  You don’t have to burn to get a tan.


1. Take care of your hands — apply a naturally healing cream when you’re done (and before).

For the really grotty work, most people will choose to wear gloves.  But for the rest of the work (and for the rest of us), gloveless gardening is the choice.  And even with the nicest and richest of soil — say, the awesome black earth of California’s Salinas Valley made famous is the Grapes of Wrath — there still can be a great need to hydrate and restore the skin.  While it’s great to garden, it’s also great not to have hands that look like the backside of an armadillo and feel like a wood rasp.

Tip: Applying a therapy cream that’s both hydrating and healing to your hard-gardening hands doesn’t need to a sign of weakness!  If you’re a serious gardener, you need a serious hand therapy — one that’s isn’t sticky or slimy so you can still turn the doorknob; one with an aroma that won’t compete with your bouquet of gardenias or suggests to your neighbor that you just left a house of ill-repute; one that turns your nicks, scratches, rose pricks and other hard-earned injuries from the gardening wars into happy hands and happy skin (which usually leads to happy ‘significant others’ when those hands reach out to them)!

As a friendly gesture from gardener to gardener: I’d like to offer you 10% off any of the natural mineral gardener’s hand therapy cream that we formulate here at Awakening.  It has received the Gardener’s How-To seal of approval, so you know that it’s been subjected to a thorough in-garden review!  It’s totally non-greasy, fresh scented, long-lasting and flat-out healing.  Shh, this offer is for gardener’s only!

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One Response to “5 Best Ways Gardeners can Tend to Themselves: Tips for Healthier Gardeners”

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