Keep Your Gloves On

In this letter from the GRIT editor, Caitlin Wilson discusses family, gardening and the need to wear gloves.

article image
Tonya Olson

My parents bought a small parcel of land a few years ago. Their new home doesn’t offer quite enough space for livestock beyond chickens, which my dad isn’t sold on yet anyway, but it’s plenty large enough that hauling anything from one side of the property to another is a chore. My mom has been gradually planting up the dam around their little pond with native grasses and forbs; our part of Kansas was once tallgrass prairie, and she’s determined to return a portion of their land to that state.

We often chat about plants and swap between our gardens; my yard tends to be soggy until August, when it bakes as hard as a brick, so I also make use of native plants in the flowerbeds to improve my chances of having flowers year after year. I pick up mulch and compost through my city’s yard waste management program, which entails many dozens of wheelbarrow trips from the car to the garden.

Some of you will laugh, and some will shake your heads at this: I’m learning that my body just isn’t as invincible as it used to feel, and that I really should make use of tools to save some wear and tear on myself. It’s a lesson Mom’s been trying to teach me for years now. Her latest tool is a golf cart set up with a small bed on the back. It’s the perfect amount of hauling capacity for her purposes, and it saves her long expeditions dragging a garden cart out to the dam and back. She’s also planning to install a few raised beds for this year’s vegetables. Less kneeling and crouching will let her weed the beds more comfortably, not to mention bringing the harvest to a more convenient height.

Mom has also spent years convincing me to wear garden gloves. I’m careful to wear work gloves and eye protection when I build things, she notes, so why am I so averse to wearing gloves when I garden? Well, I love being able to feel the textures of a garden under my hands: soil, leaves, fuzzy and slick stems, gritty limestone. I weed by feel as much as by eye, and gloves conceal the textures I use to ensure that I pull the right plant. However, the clay that predominates in the local soil is hard on hands, and the native plants I cultivate aren’t much gentler — to say nothing of the roses guarding just about every corner of my yard. I suppose this year I’ll finally join the glove-wearing garden club, and maybe I’ll make it through the growing season without any wounds.

I’d like to hear about the tools and equipment you find indispensable. They don’t have to be garden-related: Perhaps there’s a kitchen gadget you can’t do without, or a piece of clothing that offers something more than any alternative could. Write to me at, and your thoughts may end up in print.

  • Updated on Jun 16, 2021
  • Originally Published on Jun 10, 2021
Tagged with: gardening, gloves, vegetables