On beautiful spring and summer days, many gardeners find themselves staying indoors rather than getting out and enjoying the great outdoors. Their reason? They suffer from pollen allergies.
While gardening with allergies does require some special consideration, it is possible and can be very enjoyable. Sure we have to make a few changes, but it is worth it and not hard to make the adjustment.
There is no cure for allergies at this time. In fact, the medical community is not completely sure why we develop allergies. An allergic reaction is an improper response by our immune system against a harmless substance such as pollen. Our bodies release histamine and it is this chemical that produces the allergic symptoms.
Having allergies is not a good excuse for accepting a lower quality of life. Gardening is a great hobby if you love working in the yard. There are many ways to successfully do so, even with allergies. A positive attitude, some small life style changes, and proper planning will take you a long ways for enjoying gardening.
The pollen season covers the entire planting season. It begins in spring when we start to get our gardens ready for planting and last into autumn until the first frost. Plants pollinate at different times of the year and many methods are used. The plants producing pollen in the spring may appear at different times on a calendar, depending on where you live. The farther north you live, the later the season starts and the shorter the season.
Three types of the major pollinators and their seasons are:
- Trees: They are the early pollinators but their season usually does not last long. They produce a large amount of pollen in a short period of time. We often can see our cars or other objects covered in their pollen.
- Grasses: They begin in late spring and continue into summer. Grass is the most plentiful plant on earth, and you may be feeling the effects of its pollen as you work in your garden.
- Weeds: They begin their pollination process in mid to late summer and continue producing pollen until the first frost. They are notorious for producing the largest amount of pollen. Ragweed in known as the king of pollen production.
What Is Pollen?
Pollen is produced by the male plant and is what the female plant needs for fertilization to occur. It seems like not many people know that flowers, trees, and weeds come in both male and female varieties.
Since plants can't move around to pollinate each other, nature worked out an intricate and graceful way of accomplishing fertilization. Nature uses the wind. When people get in the way of this process, pollen allergies occur. The second method that nature uses is insects, flies, humming birds and of course, bees. Bees are the major pollinators of the world. Some plants have cut out the middle man and pollinate themselves. Very handy, and rather creative, don't you think?
Plants that use the wind are usually not attractive to insects or people. They also usually have no fragrance to attract animals. By using the wind, these plants over produce pollen because most of it will not reach its destination.
Plants that use insects for reproduction tend to be attractive and smell good to attract the different variety of insects. The pollen is sticky so that it will clings onto the insect as they rub against it. When they arrive at the female plant of the same species and the pollen rubs off, fertilization occurs.
Gardening with Allergies
Don't plant a large number of male species which are the ones that produce the pollen. This will reduce the pollen in the air from the plants in your own garden. Cooler, cloudy and windless days are better for your allergies and after a rain there is less pollen in the air.
If you want to check on pollen and mold counts, visit www.pollen.com. Sometimes your local TV news will also give out a pollen index. Remember that the pollen count given is what was in the air yesterday. Regardless, it is a helpful guide in letting you know what the trees, grasses and weeds are doing.
Histamine-laden cells in our eyes and noses stand ready to fight the pollen invaders. Think of it as pollen grains storming the castle. Our body throws out the histamine as it tries to fend off the invaders. The symptoms of nasal allergies, caused by histamine, are designed to prevent more pollen from entering our bodies. Examples of these symptoms are nasal congestion and watery eyes. Other symptoms, such as sneezing and coughing are design to expel the pollen that has already entered into our bodies.
When you work in your garden, there are a few things you can do to help yourself fend off those invaders:
- Wear goggles (like safety goggles) and a mask to prevent the pollen from getting in.
- Wear a hat, gloves, long pants and shirt. That's why it's a good idea to work in cooler weather, because with all of that on -- you'll get hot!
- Take your clothes off when you get back inside your house and take them to the laundry room so you don't track pollen in all over your house.
- Shower and wash that pollen out of your hair before going to bed. You don't want the pollen on your pillow which would be right by your nose.
- Keep your outside working-in-the-garden shoes, outside.
- Have fun in your garden when the pollen count is the lowest.
- Keep the pollen away from your face by not rubbing it in! Always wash your hands first before rubbing your eyes.
- Use a nasal irrigation system to rinse out the pollen from your nose.
Allergy sufferers can also have bad reactions to mold. Be careful if you are working around the base of your house, or if your pathways are looking green or splotchy. A good power washing now and then will take care of that problem in short order. Mold can be a more serious threat to your health other than just being an allergen. Mold is perhaps the only living thing you won't want to cultivate in your bright and beautiful and uplifting garden.
Don is the publisher and editor for www.avoid-nasal-allergies.com/. If you suffer from pollen allergies, learn more about tree allergies, grass allergies, and weed allergies at his website.
on this article or submit your tip to CreativeHomemaking.com.
for a printer friendly version of this page.
Follow me on Pinterest
Receive new article links via Twitter
Follow Creative Homemaking on Facebook
this article to a friend!
our article archives.
to subscribe to our weekly newsletter.