Gardening is a fun hobby that can also be great for your health because it provides you with a harvest of delicious and nutritious fruits and vegetables. However, many gardeners don't realize that there are also some inherent health risks that come with gardening due to pathogens and other risks factors that come with handling soil and performing routine gardening duties. Unfortunately, many gardeners completely overlook or ignore these risks despite warnings from health authorities, physicians, and gardening experts. If you're planning on doing some gardening any time soon, it would be wise to heed the tips below to protect your health in the process:
1. Wear Gloves, Goggles, and a Face Mask During Tilling and Mixing
Handling soil mixtures with your hands presents the possibility that you could encounter sharp objects that can scratch or cut your hands, wrists, or arms. Of course, you don't want an open cut exposed to all of those funky soil microbes, so a thick pair of gardening gloves and long sleeves are in order. Safety googles are also a good idea because floating foreign particles can get in your eyes and cause irritation or even a painful eye infection called a sty. Perhaps most importantly, as mentioned many times on MyGardeningNetwork.com, it's very important to wear face masks whenever you're working with soil because it contains potentially harmful aerosol pathogens like bacteria and fungi that humans should avoid purposefully inhaling.
2. Keep the Soil Wet While You Work
Keeping soil wet or at least damp while you're working with it will prevent dust from going airborne and becoming an inhalation or eye hazard. Even if you're heeding the advice in the tip above by wearing gloves, goggles, and a mask, it's still a good idea to wet the soil to keep the smaller particles trapped on the ground under the moisture. Likewise, you can clean the air periodically by using a hose or spray bottle to spray in the area you're working in, as the falling water will capture dust particles and bring them to the ground.
3. Avoid Using Toxic Pesticides or Weed Killers
It should go without saying that if health is a concern you should always opt for a minimal and DIY organic approach rather than going with the toxic commercial alternatives. Applying these products to your soil will only ensure that you'll be exposed to them yourself in the future, which is never a good thing even it's just minor exposure. Furthermore, certain pesticides and weed killers can hurt your plant growth and make them smaller and less flavorful.
4. Practice Proper Posture
Finally, this is one that is very commonly disregarded until the gardener finds themselves dealing with chronic back pain or an acute injury due to improper posture. You might think that you have what it takes to bend over in the garden all day, but that back breaking labor can have a gradual and insidious effect on your body. Practicing proper garden posture will ensure that you're able to “do the work, without letting the work do you.”
Look into DIY Organics and Aquaponics
In closing, one bonus tip for having a safer garden is to use your own home-made fertilizers and teas to nourish your plants instead of store bought nutrients mixes and synthetic fertilizers. Aquaponics is an excellent way to automate this process by pumping renewable fish emulsion water from your own fish tank into the garden.