Let It Grow: Healthy gardeners are happy gardeners

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Gardeners and all of us &8216;outdoors sun-worshipers&8217; should keep a lot of things in mind.

There&8217;s Lyme disease, melanoma, carcinoma, poisonous plant allergic reactions, snakebites, flea transportation, chigger bites, spider bites, imported fire ant bites, bee and wasp stings and that&8217;s just the beginning.

Here are a few precautions to take in order to enjoy successful, healthy gardening

When outdoors, always wear sunscreen. I am a man of American Indian heritage.

I tan easily and I always use sunscreen with an SPF factor of at least 15 and most times I use SPF 30.

This will aid in protecting your skin and preventing sun-related skin cancers. Don&8217;t worry; you&8217;ll still get the benefits of vitamin D.

Wear a wide brimmed hat to protect your ears, nose and the top of your head. Even if you have a full head of thick hair, the sun can still do damage to your scalp.

Protect your eyes with sunglasses and when using power tools, use safety glasses.

Another thing to remember when using power tools is to wear long pants, gloves and never wear open-toed shoes.

Poison oak, ivy, sumac and even trumpet vine can be extremely irritating to most people&8217;s skin.

When battling these plants, wear protection from head to toe, send the plants to the landfill and for goodness sake, do not burn them. All parts of these plants are poisonous.

After you remove the plants, go to the garden hose and wash off your shoes. Go, then, to the washing machine and strip.

Wash all clothes that you are wearing, and then shower. After showering, go back to the garden hose and wash it off using a dishwashing detergent. Then, be sure to wash your hands.

Keep an eye out for poisonous snakes. We built our homes in their territory and they are just there to feed on those pesky rodents that destroy our homes and gardens.

FYI: There are three genii and six species of poisonous snakes indigenous to Shelby County.

Black widow spiders frequently build their homes in empty pottery, so take notice of what&8217;s in that pot as you pick it up to plant.

Wear insect repellent. Deet is the perfume that I wear during the buggy season.

This will keep you from being bitten by flies, West Nile virus-transmitting mosquitoes, lyme disease-carrying ticks, annoying chiggers and fleas. Fleas can be tracked into your home and attack your indoor furry friends, if you don&8217;t take precautions.

Now, about perfumes &8230; don&8217;t wear them when working outdoors. Colognes and perfumes attract bugs.

Watch out for the bees and wasps. Don&8217;t slap at them when they buzz by as this will only make them think you are challenging them to a brawl.

They will almost always win. A quick fix for bee and wasp stings to ease the pain is to apply a small amount of household ammonia to the sting area.

If you are allergic to bee stings, get immediate medical attention.

Keep your eyes open for the imported fire ants. They can quickly build a colony mound and spread throughout your yard. Keep them under control by consulting your Extension Agent or landscape professional.

Have a safe gardening season