Ten Tips for Gardening with Allergies

 really fat puffer

Me, during allergy season!

 

Originally Posted 3/22/2011

OK folks, I must preface this post by stating the disclaimer that I am not a doctor and I am not recommending any medications. I must also advise you to check with your doctor regarding the suggestions below should you have any doubts or questions.

Now that THAT is out of the way, I would like to share with you a few things I do to make gardening more pleasant during allergy season, which for me unfortunately is just about year ’round! Actually I suffer the most during the fall, but early spring is a difficult time too. This week in North Texas the pollen count is literally almost off the charts. Today it registers 11.7 on a scale from 1 – 12. Just call me Puffer Fish for the next couple of weeks as I fit the name very well.

I caution you that the below tips are going to sound elementary, but I wish to express them nonetheless – just in case you fail to think about one or two. For me, regularly practicing all of the below makes life a lot easier and I get to do what I love – gardening – no matter the season!

  • Avoid gardening on especially windy days. Plan out your garden bed on paper or make your seed and plant lists instead.
  • If you regularly take medications for allergies, take them at least an hour before you go outside so they are in your system and working.
  • Although I cannot “recommend” this to you as a non-physician, I personally keep an antihistamine on hand when gardening just in case I, or my landscaping companion(s), have a very serious allergic reaction. In addition to, or in lieu of, plants – some folks are highly allergic to the sting of wasps and/or bees that are attracted to the flowering vegetables and ornamentals you may be planting.  If you begin to experience swelling of the face, tongue or throat, it can indeed become a life-threatening emergency called anaphylactic shock. Take an antihistamine (if you are comfortable doing so) and call an ambulance or get to the nearest emergency room pronto!
  • Drink bottled or filtered water throughout your time outdoors. Bottled or filtered water is preferred because you are not adding any additional allergens to your system. Drinking water in general is great when you have allergies as it offsets the drying nature of most allergy medications plus it keeps mucus thin and clear, preventing potential secondary infections from forming.
  • Wear lightweight clothing that includes long sleeves and pants. The added coverage to your skin will protect you from excessive sun (which believe it or not, some folks have an allergy to) and other topical allergens.
  • Wear an allergy face mask, especially when mowing and/or blowing grass and leaves. Yes, I know you will look like a nerd, but trust me; this tip is well worth it and may be the best one on the list!
  • Wear gloves. Airborne allergens are not the only type of contact that can send a gardener into an attack. Cedar mulch will break me into hives if I am not careful. Wonder why I choose to buy cedar mulch then? Not only does it repel some humans, like me, it repels ants and other garden pests! I simply wear gloves when spreading mulch and the problem is solved.
  • When your garden tasks are complete and you are indoors for the remainder, immediately remove your clothing and place it in the washing machine and wash. Keep garden shoes and gloves in the garage or shed and out of the house.
  • And, after you’ve shed your clothing, hop in the shower to remove any lingering allergens on your skin and in your hair.
  • Use allergen free laundry detergent and hair and skin care products for sensitive skin to prevent a combination allergic reaction.

By participating in some or all of the above tips, it is indeed possible for an allergy-prone person to reap the benefits of and enjoy gardening at all times of the year!

Until next time,

Cindy

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