Hauling those gardening tools around, bending, stretching, reaching and ploughing can really work up a sweat. Summer might be coming to an end, but across the country there’s still plenty of sizzle in the air. Gardening is a workout (no matter what your fitness level) which means hydration and managing your body temperature is key. Every year there are reported cases of heat stroke happening while gardeners are “putting around”—which makes it sound like gardening is a hobby that doesn’t raise the heart rate.
Real gardeners know the struggle is real: Stinging eyes from perspiration, air too muggy to make your glasses comfortable and finishing up a deadheading session feeling like you just left the weight circuit at the gym. Pace yourself and try to avoid midday gardening. If you need to mow, save it for late in the afternoon (in the morning the dew makes it tough, which means you’ll be working harder). Even watering midday can be problematic since the heat can make your plants “sizzle.” You don’t want to steam your edible crop unless they’ve been cut and put in a pan.
Keeping Your Cool
Obviously what you wear can make a big difference, but some gardeners are prone to piling on clothes as protective gear. Reach for breathable, light, natural fabrics like cotton. Loose items that cover your skin for sun protection coupled with a wide brimmed hat are ideal. Your gait can also play a big role—practice walking with arms akimbo and “loosely” so you can capture any passing breeze.
Try wearing a bandana knotted loosely around your neck. It offers a cooling effect when the sweat evaporates. Flip flops can be great gardening “shoes” depending on the task at hand, especially since there’s nothing as refreshing as running hose water over your feet. Of course, closed toed shoes or Crocs should be worn for bigger tasks, but your hands and feet can dictate the rest of your body’s temperature.
Facing Down Indian Summers
One of the best investments you can make is a large outdoor fan. Not only does it keep the breeze going, it also repels pests like mosquitoes. You can find one that’s attached to hoses, making it possible to enjoy a very fine, cool mist. Hydration is key, so don’t forget to drink your H2O. A good rule of thumb is to drink the same in ounces per day as your body weight—a 150 pound person should aim for 1500 ounces of water stretched out evenly during your waking hours.
Wear sunscreen, and if you didn’t finish all your winterizing activities in September, make sure to take care of them pronto as autumn sets in. The fertilizers need to be absorbed—just like you, winter prep takes some time.