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Photo by: Tom Carey - Garden tools can be accidental hazards to the untrained gardener.
Winter Park / Maitland Observer Wednesday, Apr. 4, 2012 8 years ago

Tom Carey: Is your garden safe?

What could possibly be dangerous safely ensconced in the tranquility of my garden?
by: Tom Carey

Deep-seated personality traits of mine have always been those of a designer and builder. Numerous career choices have been in the construction trades, starting as a carpenter’s helper during college summer breaks, working in the wholesale building supply industry, and even as an electrician at the “Mouse House.” During these 30-plus years, interspersed with creating my homestead and gardens, concern for job safety has evolved from non-existent to almost stifling. As part of my current position as an instructor of the noble art of growing your own food, imparting safe working habits has become a mission and duty.

What could possibly be dangerous safely ensconced in the tranquility of my garden? The soft, deeply turned soil, perfectly loosened to allow the roots easy penetration, was more than likely broken up with sharp steel implements. Whether using a sharpened spade-shaped shovel or the rapidly rotating tines on a gas-powered roto-tiller, our soft toes are no match when directing as much force as possible at targeted root clumps. Sandals or flip-flops, let alone bare feet, are out of the question when considering garden attire. At a bare minimum, closed-toe sneakers should be worn, with steel toe combat boot probably recommended by the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) guidelines.

The various denizens of the natural world all have their bag of tricks when feeling threatened. I am amazed at the tenderness of thin-skinned guests to my great out-of-doors when facing down the poison arsenal of mere mosquito bites, fire ant mounds and no-see-um welts, not to mention bee stings or scorpion zolts. Long-sleeve shirts and canvas jeans preclude the majority of itches. Chemical repellants, if used at all, should first be sprayed on a paper towel and then applied sparingly to outer clothes and exposed skin. Timing is everything, with most biting bugs looking to snack on us right around sunset.

The most inconvenient safety chore during a cardio session in the garden on a hot, humid afternoon would be a dust mask. Dry soil will emit particulate of untold composition. Tossing granular fertilizer warrants an awareness of wind direction and pity for all those downstream from the dust cloud. Diatomaceous earth, an insect control, is jagged microscopic silica skeletal remains of diatom algae, akin to ground-up glass. My primary procrastinator when planning to muck out the chicken coop is the airborne manure powder.

Gardening is the oldest and most popular active hobby in the history of our species. The immediate enjoyment in an idyllic setting must be slightly tempered with safety measure to ensure future enjoyment. Have fun, grow safe!

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