With summer heat starting to come on, it is a good time to remind yourself to be a smart summer gardener. As I have written before, we usually apply this to our gardens, making sure to water wisely, to use mulch to moderate soil temperature, and to plant heat-loving flowers and edibles.
But, we often forget that the heat that stresses our plants, can stress us out too. And, while we don’t think about it, heat related problems can sneak up on you. Even being out in high temperatures for a short time can cause health problems. So, before you even think about gardening, know yourself, know your limits and how much is too much time in the sun for you. And, know the signs of heat-related illness including headache, dizziness, extremely high body temperature, and breathlessness.
Here are some simple tips to stay safe while enjoying the health benefits of gardening.
If possible, try to work in the earliest (i.e. the coolest) hours of the day to limit the amount of time that you are working in the hot sun. Or, work in the cooler evening hours if that’s the only time that you have available.
Make sure you keep track of your time out in the garden. If you are like most gardeners, you lose all track of time. Before you know it, several hours have passed. Set a timer if you have to, or have someone come out and remind you that you said you only wanted to spend a certain amount of time working and stop.
Most of us have busy schedules and only have a certain number of hours to garden and try to get everything done at once. But, it doesn’t all have to be done at once. Make up a schedule of garden chores and work on them one at a time. When each chore is done check it off. This will help you feel that you have accomplished something and help you fight the urge to do more.
Regardless of how long you are working out in the garden, make sure to take breaks often, and rest in the shade. This will give your body a chance to cool down and recover from being over-heated.
Stay hydrated and eat healthy foods to keep your energy up. Avoid sugary or alcoholic beverages because these can actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Instead, stay hydrated with plenty of water.