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Garden Glove Obsession

By Rick Gush, Urban Farm contributor

Friday, June 18, 2010

Garden gloves

Photo by Rick Gush

The newest addition to my garden glove collection.

I have a thing for gloves. Although my wife wouldn’t agree, because she’s always looking at the various scrapes, thorns and wounds on my hands and scornfully telling me I’m an idiot for not wearing gloves when I work in the garden. But the fact is that I do really enjoy wearing gloves, and I have a long history of owning lots of pairs of garden and work gloves. When I lived in Colorado I made an “art” collection of 150 old left-handed gloves and put it up on a wall in a bar where I cashed my paychecks.

These days, I have a bunch of different gloves and I regularly buy a dozen new pairs at the ag fair in Chiavari every January. I also have some more exotic gloves, like my rose pruning gloves with the extra long gauntlets and my not-yet-used white leather gloves that are, oddly, a souvenir from the Mont Blanc tunnel in the Alps. I’m waiting for a special occasion to wear those. I also have legions of regular work gloves of all kinds, including welder’s gloves and several rubber and disposable types. 

I even recently had a fling with gloves made of fake vinyl leather. Fake vinyl leather? I was obviously contemptuous at first. I got a pair for free when I purchased a dozen pair of leather gloves at an agriculture fair a few years ago, I finally wore the things, and was amazed at how well they stood up to the beating I give my gloves. They were particularly good in wet conditions, which are usually hard on the leather gloves, and leather gloves become prematurely stiff when they dry, which these vinyl beauties do not do.

Anyway, I now have a new favorite glove type: the thin fabric gloves treated with a plastic coating. I’m probably way behind everybody else, because I’ve seen these new style gloves for a few years now, but have been, once again, prematurely contemptuous, thinking that those skimpy little plastic gloves wouldn’t be at all useful in my rugged he-man labors in the rock quarry that is our garden.

Well, I bought a pair of those skimpy gloves at an ag fair a few months ago, mostly because I was a bit bored waiting for my wife to rendezvous with me. They pair of gloves only cost a euro and a half, so they were like a souvenir. I thought, hey, maybe these would be good for making concrete or something light and wet like that. 

In fact, they are tremendous for mixing concrete. Then I tried them for hardcore work, digging virgin soil and scrubbing rocks and dirt out and then forcing it all through a series of screens to sift out the rocks. There’s no other way to do that work except to use one’s hands to scoop and shove and press the dirt through the screens. Leather gloves can easily develop holes in the fingers in a single day’s use. To make my leather gloves last longer, I usually wear them with a hole or two in the fingers for quite some time. To my pleasant surprise, the skimpy gloves not only lasted as long as the leather gloves, they were also quite comfortable.

The other news in the garden this week is the setting of some costoluto tomato fruits. These heavily ribbed tomatoes have reputation for being very finicky, and my machismo finally reached a point where I dared plant this variety this year. I’m happy to report that the plants are all quite vigorous and one can see the heavy ribbing even in all the little fruits that have set in the last few days. 

Read more of Rick's Favorite Crops »

Give us your opinion on Garden Glove Obsession.
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I don't do anything without gloves anymore. I used to have hands that were scared up with nicks and cuts due to wrenches that slipped, shovels that created blisters, roses that poked, or rocks that scraped. After a lifetime of something always in a stage of healing, I finally leaned to wear gloves. My favorite is a rubber coated knit glove. It has grip and fits snug and tight on the hand but yet expands with the hand during movement.

Have a great glove day.
David, Omaha, NE
Posted: 11/28/2010 6:06:30 AM
I love the concept. A few years ago I made a great deal (I thought at the time) and bought two gross of a particular type of leather-palm canvass glove. I can't tell you how many I've given away, used up, lost and still cannot see the end of them. I actually look forward to the day when I can go into the nursery and actually buy a pair of gloves that I like. I just can't justify it when I still have hundreds and hundreds of these.
Bruce, Las Vegas, NV
Posted: 10/20/2010 1:14:49 PM

About the Blogger

Rick Gush

Rick Gush
Rick Gush has long been a staunch organic gardener. While a student at the University of California at Davis he worked at local tomato and sugar beet farms and continued in the agricultural and horticultural industries for many years. A career move in the 1990s led him to design computer games, but no matter how much of a techie he’s become, gardening and farming remain his principal passions.

In 2000, Rick moved to Italy, where he writes to you about his cliff garden and other experiences in Italian urban agriculture.

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