I am a very dirty gardener. Yes, I am.
Stop by my house on a Sunday afternoon and chances are I’ll be covered in dirt. I go from clean to contaminated in less than 15 minutes — dirty jeans, dirty gloves, dirty shoes with smears of dirt across my face.
Last year, I had an endless supply of old t-shirts, jeans, and gloves. I could go a whole month without doing a single load of garden laundry. I didn’t care about my garden tools or supplies. Shovels, buckets, and planters should be dirty, right?
This year, I am reforming my dirty ways. Here’s why:
First, clean tools last longer. Over time, rust and dirt will dull sharp edges. As I invest more and more in my garden plants, I want to invest in the right tools for the job. Ruining a hand-me-down shovel is no big deal. Ruining an expensive all-steel nursery spade is down right stupid.
Dirty tools and gloves transmit diseases from sick plants to healthy ones. This may not be a problem in your own back yard, but when take your dirty tools to work in a friend’s yard, you increase your chances of spreading unwanted pathogens. In the summer, my community garden is ripe with powdery mildew and cabbage moths. Neither are welcome in my yard, so I’ve started hosing down my tools before I leave the community plot and throwing my gloves in the wash as soon as I get home.
And speaking of laundry, my endless supply of old jeans and t-shirts is starting to run out. I’m four months pregnant and things don’t fit as well as they used to. It’s hard to bend and weed in a tight pair of jeans with your belly hanging out. Clean gloves and tools decrease the time it takes for me to get dirty and decrease my loads of laundry.
Now I go from from clean to contaminated in about 60 minutes — a significant improvement!