When we moved into our new place one of the things I was most excited about was our garden. I’ve always potted around with plants, and after a decade of living in student apartments, and then an apartment with my husband I was dying to get my green fingers into the dirt and to start gardening. The garden of the house we moved into desperately needed….everything. It oscillated between being either entirely over-grown or completely dead. We were going to have to do a complete overhaul. It was also the first time that either of us would be living in a place with a garden as an adult. And we were starting off with a lawnmower my dad was giving us, a spade borrowed from my husband’s father and a set of delicate pruning sheers a friend had given me as a gift for my orchids. Essentially, we were starting from scratch.
So as we work on everything, from cultivating grass and top soil, to tree-felling and pruning not to mention planting and terracing, here are the essentials you need to protect yourself before stepping into your garden:
First and foremost. Especially here in sunny South Africa
- Start with a hat. When you’re outside you should always start with a hat.
- Sun screen. Obviously. But not just on your face. When you are gardening you are bent over forwards most of the day. Which means that you need to put sun screen in the back of your neck. And that sneaky little section of skin on your back between your pants and your shirt which peaks out when you are bending over forward.
- Sun glasses. Wearing my sunglasses has kept the sun out of my eyes. As well as soil when yanking weeds out of the ground water when my husband brandished a hosepipe at me.
Gloves for gardening
- I cannot stress the importance of gardening gloves. They protect your hands from the sun, and if you spend a lot of time gardening gloves will protect you skin from the soil and moisture you are exposing your hands to while gardening.
- Secondly, and I cannot stress this enough, gloves help with the EEU factor. Whether its an earthworm, some or other kind of grub, a spider or surprise dog poop, gloves will protect you.
- Using gloves has also meant that a potentially tetanus-containing rusty nail or two lying around the garden damaged the glove and not my skin. I feel a few bucks on a new pair of gloves outweighs the tetanus shot.
- Initially I was gardening barefoot or in sandals. After enough bites I got wise. Wearing boots helps keep the interesting insects at bay which are abundant in the garden. Especially the spiders. It also means that you walk, worry free through all kinds of wet soil and muddy flower beds without worry too much.
- I left my fancy gumboots in their box for the rainy season, and got myself a mid-calf pair that are easy to slip in and out of while walking in and out of the house.
- Because them darn mosquitos are murder. Do I really need to mention the spiders again?
A few tools of the trade
These are what we have needed to acquire on our little journey so far:
- A hand spade/trowel. You can get a lot done with a small, cheap spade.
- A two-pronged hand fork. Few things work better for manual weed removal.
- Small ones for orchids, bigger ones for roses, and long handled ones for hedges, shrubs and the occasional tree-branch. Heavy duty is good.
- Watering can. Because running up and down with the kitchen jug jus wastes everyone’s time.
- A wheelbarrow. Because the same as above, but not liquids.
- A hosepipe. Depending on how large your garden is. Using high water pressure from the hose has also helped us dig trenches and plant larger plants.
- A pickaxe. I have slugged around a borrowed pickaxe more often than I ever thought I would while prepping ground with compost for planting.
And now the real work beings!