Tools to help keep your senses while gardening. (Mary Lowther photo)

Mary Lowther column: Want gardening longevity? Protection is key

Let me tell you what I’ve learned to prevent injuries.

By Mary Lowther

I’d like you to be able to garden when you’re as old as me, so let me tell you what I’ve learned to prevent injuries.

Gardening may look idyllic, gentle and easy and sure it soothes the mind and immerses you into what’s really important, but one can ruin the potential of a lifetime of gardening by not protecting themselves.

Don’t carry or lift anything that feels like too much because once you hurt your back you might never recover. If something’s too heavy, break off chunks and make more trips. I used to be able to haul bales of hay but now I cut the string and move pieces of it. The same goes for digging — only lift up as much as feels comfortable with the shovel.

If your knife isn’t sharp enough you’ll have to use more force and there will be more chance for it to slip and cut you. If your shovel or hoe aren’t sharp you’ll tire unnecessarily, gardening will feel more like a chore and you might decide just to give it up. Sure, it takes a lot of energy to keep a great garden, but let’s make it as enjoyable as possible by keeping the tools easy to use. Carry a file with you to sharpen the tool when it gets dull.

Wear ear and eye protection when using the lawn mower or weedeater because the noise can gradually damage the hearing and a stone can quickly hit the eye. Even a vacuum cleaner can reach 85 decibels and that’s enough to cause permanent hearing loss. I wear ear muffs and protective glasses whenever I’m using tools like these. Ear muffs are handy to have around too when the neighbour’s dog suddenly notices you, believing you’re going to put down your trowel, stop your humming, jump over the fence and steal his bone. Once you’ve changed your pants you can put on the earmuffs and ignore the barking.

Finally, wear enough clothes to prevent sun burn and skin cancer. I always wear a hat that covers my ears and neck, a long sleeved shirt that meets my gloves at the wrist, long pants and shoes. I cringe when I see people out gardening in a T-shirt, shorts and ball cap. Even sun protection cream is not enough to stop the damaging effects of the sun when we’re outside for hours.

I want to be like Deter Eisenhauer who, in his 80s, looks and acts much younger yet still earns a living farming in Metchosin. I asked him when he was going to retire. He said: “Retire? What from? I love gardening!”

Please contact mary_lowther@yahoo.ca with questions and suggestions since I need all the help I can get.

Just Posted

Pilot program to help Cowichan seniors age in place

Seniors Foundation partnering with B.C. tech company Hibou

Green leader Elizabeth May makes campaign stop in Duncan

Says she’s confident voters looking for Green alternative

Coming up in Cowichan: Special service at Cobble Hill cenotaph Saturday

Malahat Legion hosting special service at Cobble Hill cenotaph The Royal Canadian… Continue reading

Zivanai Masango opens new performance space at Little Zimbabwe Farm in Cowichan

Exciting African singer/ songwriter is the first to play the new studio at Cowichan Lake Road farm

Carter family continues tradition of making musical memories in Cowichan

On Saturday the Alf Carter Band, will be providing the entertainment at the Eagles Hall in Duncan.

VIDEO: First all-female spacewalk team makes history

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir did work on International Space Station’s power grid

Zantac, the over-the-counter heartburn drug, pulled in Canada, U.S.

Health Canada also investigates possible carcinogen in some ranitidine drugs

B.C. public safety minister says cannabis edibles not in stores til January

Mike Farnworth says he wants regional issues considered when it comes to licensing

Greta Thunberg calls for climate action in Alberta, but doesn’t talk oilsands

Swedish teen was met with some oil and gas industry supporters who came in a truck convoy

Scheer denies spreading ‘misinformation’ in predicting unannounced Liberal taxes

Conservative leader had claimed that a potential NDP-Liberal coalition could lead to a hike in GST

Council asks to limit cruise ship visits to Victoria harbour

Mayor says motion is not meant to curtail current visits or limit local cruise industry expansion

Chilliwack man pleads guilty in crash that killed pregnant woman

Frank Tessman charged under Motor Vehicle Act for accident that killed Kelowna school teacher

Kawhi Leonard, former Toronto Raptor, welcomed back to Vancouver at pre-season game

Fans go wild at pre-season game between L.A. Clippers and Dallas Mavericks at Rogers Arena

Greens and NDP go head to head on West Coast; Scheer takes fight to Bernier

Trudeau turns focus to key ridings outside Toronto after two days in Quebec

Most Read