How to Create a Garden First Aid Kit
Keep these tools of the trade on hand for any minor injuries.
Any home gardener can tell you that dealing with plants and flowers is dirty business—and something that often results in small, manageable injuries, like cuts from sharp tools, splinters from wayward thorn bushes, and rashes from bug bites and itchy foliage, like poison ivy. But, if you have a well-stocked first aid kit nearby, you won't have to take too much time away from your flower beds to fix yourself up. Here, Tonya Barnett of FRESHCUTKY Cut Flower & Vegetable Garden explains what every horticulturist should have in their garden first aid kit.
The process of growing and maintaining a garden is a labor of love, says Barnett, and is often a respite from the stressors of daily life. "Though beautiful, there are some inherent dangers within the garden that must be considered," she says, "from insect bites to allergic reactions." A first aid kit, kept close by at your workstation or in your potting shed, can help growers prepare for these unexpected accidents. And if you have any specific health considerations, Barnett says to add any medications or supports to your kit, in addition to the basics. "This includes items such as knee braces, pain relieving creams, or even over-the-counter pain relievers," she says.
Burns, Bugs, and Bumps
Though protective clothing should always be worn in the garden, Barnett says sunscreen is key to reduce exposure and prevent burns; keep a tube in your kit so it's always nearby (but be sure to apply before you head outdoors). "Depending on the season and growing region, various types of mosquito repellents may also be needed," she adds, noting that soothing lotions like aloe vera and calamine can help to relieve some discomfort should these conditions become troublesome. Keep them in your pouch for good measure.
And since bee stings and rashes—caused by contact with certain types of plants, "such as poison ivy or those which cause phytophotodermatitis," says Barnett—are common garden ailments, Barnett advises including allergy-related supplies, like anti-histamines, as well. "An EpiPen is vital for those with severe reactions," she says. Tweezers are another must-have, she says, for removing stingers.
Cuts and Scrapes
Of course, no garden first aid kit would be complete without materials needed to treat minor cuts. "Gardeners frequently use pruners, shears, shovels, and numerous other sharp tools," Barnett explains. "Antiseptic wash, non-stick gauze pads, ointment, and bandages are among the most commonly used items found in a garden first aid kit."
If stored properly, most of the items in your first aid kit should last a few seasons. Extend their shelf life by storing them in a cool, dry place when they're not in use. "Each spring, it will be important to take inventory of supplies," Barnett says. "During this time, make certain to check the expiration date of any ointments or medications, as well as ensure that all tools and bandages are still in good condition."