Several of my readers have asked, “What kind of clothes should you have on hand to garden? This is my first year, and I don’t think I have anything suitable.”
I don’t think I have really thought about it before. I have worked in the garden since I was two. My mother was a firm believer in the “Shirley Temple” look, and I hated it. When she was pregnant with my brother, she was confined to bed for the last six months because she was trying to miscarry. We stayed on the farm with my grandparents, and my Aunt Virginia also came to help out. Aunt Virginia thought all those frills, ruffles, and corkscrew curls were too much. She put me in a pair of overalls, tennis shoes, and a ponytail and turned me loose. I was the happiest kid in Northeast Oklahoma. (By the way, Aunt Virginia turned 100 years old in August, still the prettiest woman in Oklahoma). A lot of my time back then was working with grandma in the garden. At that time, I thought the garden was huge. Now when I look at the area, it was a normal family garden. I am a firm believer in giving your children their own section of the garden and teach them what they need to know to grow food. It was a lifelong gift from my grandma. I constantly remember our talks and how she taught me about gardening. Those memories are priceless.
As in all clothing decisions, you have to wear what is appropriate for the activity. To work in the garden, I think there are three main things you should consider – Functionality, comfort, and durability. Most of the time now, in the fall, you will find me in Jeans, tee-shirt, and/or Sweatshirt, depending on the temperature. Is it important to be fashionable? That depends on your personality. I strive for something that I don’t mind getting dirty and can move easily. I won’t mind if it gets snagged on a fence or ripped by a nail. I suggest a good pair of Wellies, Galoshes, rubberized shoes for wet weather, and well-fitted tennis shoes during dry weather.
A very important part of dressing for gardening is your hat. In the early spring or late fall, I usually wear my hair up in a ponytail and use a baseball hat. During the more intense sun weather, I use a straw hat that breathes and has a tie under the chin to hold it on my head. It makes a good fan when you are recovering from a particularly hard task and sitting on the swing. I have fair skin that burns easily, so I keep it covered. Don’t forget a 30spf coverage sunscreen.
Some people like to wear tool belts, holsters, or other things to carry your hand tools when your hands are busy. I prefer canvas apron with deep pockets. I added a pocket on the bib with a Velcro fastener for my cell phone. I also have a reclaimed mailbox by my raised beds for hand tools, so I don’t have to walk everywhere to find something. I have a hand trowel in the mailbox, hand fork, foldable saw, knife, weeder, shears, two gloves, one leather, and one cotton. I keep extra seeds in there also. Hanging on the swing, I keep a long-sleeved shirt if I need to work on some thorny thing. If your hands or clothes aren’t dirty when you are gardening, you truly aren’t a gardener.