I am a pianist. And while I am not the least bit vain about my hands in the conventional sense (fingernails as short as possible, no paint) I find gardening is probably not the ideal sport in terms of presentation and preservation of my physical apparatus. And while I love the feel of mud squidging through my fingers -- I then want it off my hands ASAP.
So. Gloves seemed like the answer. I started with el cheapo green and yellow canvas gloves from the hardware store. In my first garden, in the perennially wet clay soil of the redwood forest, gloves were soaked through within a minute. Being a bit slow to grasp the possibilities of owning multiple pairs of gloves, I philosophically gardened with my single pair of wet gloves.
When we moved to Bend, my garden soil changed to dry, abrasive, volcanic sand. Canvas gloves now stayed dry but the fingers wore through in a week or less. Thinking leather gloves would be sturdier, I visited the small local glove company ('Hunters: we'll buy your deerskins!') and bought a delightful pair. They lasted no longer than the canvas ones. I tried heavier leather, but I couldn't grab things and after they got wet, they dried stiff as boards
Through the years I tried various kinds of other gloves, some suggested by friends,
constantly trying slight variations on the basic two kinds, but never really satisfied.
It wasn't until about 10 years ago, during a house renovation, that I spotted the gloves of my dreams. The builder boys all had these great-looking work gloves: knitted backs and rubber-coated palms. "Do they come in size Small?" I asked and found that they did. All those years, the perfect gardening gloves had been hiding in the building supply store!
At this same time I had a secondary revelation: I could own more than one pair of gloves at a time! Think of it: wear one pair until they get filthy, then pull a new pair out of the drawer and wash the first. I felt like quite the spendthrift, heading to the checkstand at the hardware store holding 3 (three!) pairs of new gloves at a time. (Can you tell I'm not much of a shopper?)
A few years later I was given a free pair of nitrile-coated garden gloves at a garden show. Same tough-as-nails palm and finger coating, but light, flexible and thin enough to almost forget I was wearing gloves. Eureka!
I continue to adore my Atlas gloves, while occasionally using something warmer for cold weather garden tasks that don't involve actual contact with the soil
There's one slight issue I haven't fully resolved. Can you spot the problem in this photo?
Due to my being right-handed, I guess, I tend to wear out right gloves at about twice the rate of left gloves. What to do with the orphans? I have yet to find a use. But I can't bring myself to throw away these perfectly good gloves.
Yesterday I received a new pair of gloves to try. I won them in a contest on one of my favorite garden blogs
They boast 'Toughtek-reinforced palm and fingertips ..... a carabiner hook ...... ventilation panels that wick moisture'. Made by a company called Womanswork ('custom fit for women'). I'll give them a try and keep you posted!