You can judge good gardeners by their gloves

By Lee Reich, The Associated Press
Friday December 21, 2001

There’s nothing like pruning a prickly gooseberry bush or a thorny rose on a cold day to give an appreciation for gardening gloves. Gardeners who like to wallow with their hands in the soil might frown at the idea of a gardening glove between their skin and the muck. But not every gardener enjoys dirty hands, and cold weather or thorny plants make gloves a necessity. 

Pruning can quickly bring home the limitation of a particular kind of garden glove. If the gloves are of leather that becomes stiff when wet, and eventually any gardening glove does get wet, it can become hard to grasp fine twigs you’ve cut away from the base of a bush. Working in wet weather with a glove that is not waterproof will have your fingers swimming in a dirty ooze within the gloves — a cold, wet ooze this time of year. Gloves that are all canvas, in particular, soak up water like a sponge. 

When shopping for gardening gloves, pay attention to the fit if you’re going to use them for doing anything more exacting than grabbing onto the handle of a shovel or pitchfork.  

Gloves will not be particularly comfortable for long-term use, no matter what you’re doing, if they don’t, well — “fit like a glove.” Watch for poorly placed seams. 

Perhaps the best solution to the search for the ideal gardening glove is to own two pairs of gloves, each suited to a particular task. Or even three pairs! Two or more of those pairs might even be exactly alike, but still needed so that you can use one pair while the other one is drying. 

The almost-perfect gardening glove must have a few other qualities, besides a good fit.  

The gloves should be inexpensive, or their cost should at least be in direct proportion to their durability.  

The ideal gardening glove also should not be slippery. Some contenders for the ideal gardening glove include soft leather gloves and canvas gloves whose palms and fingers are coated with rubber. 

And finally, the ideal pair of gardening gloves should be biodegradable. Then, when the gloves outlive their usefulness in protecting your hands, you can toss them into the compost pile. As compost, they could spend their afterlife nourishing the garden.