There Is No Bad Weather–Only Inadequate Clothing

– Posted in: Garden chores, Things I Love, Tools and Equipment

When faced with a short growing season, you have two choices: bemoan your fate or suck it up and deal with it. I’ve discovered it’s much easier to deal with it if you’re wearing appropriate clothing–clothing you might not immediately think of as gardening duds.

In mid-November I had a bunch of shrubs I had gotten for 75% off and about 350 bulbs that somehow didn’t get planted in October. The very first week in November it had been shirt-sleeve warm, but the weather suddenly turned wintry and I was faced with 38°F (3°C) on my gardening day. With no precipitation predicted and no wind to speak of, that’s often as good as it gets in November. No waiting for better weather. Furthermore, the soil was damp and–most importantly–not frozen.

Kneeling in cold, damp soil is not something I look forward to, so the first thing I put on was my trusty snow pants, similar to the ones pictured at right. Snow or ski pants can be pretty darn expensive, so I bought mine at a post-holiday clearance sale at a price low enough I don’t cringe when I kneel in the mud. Before that, I had worn some lined jogging pants which were water-resistant and lined with cotton knit, similar to t-shirt material. They worked as long as I had long underwear underneath them.

For my upper body, the name of the game is layers, because if you’re digging holes you do warm yourself up after a while. My outer layer is a Polartec 200 fleece jacket that covers my butt and has a dual zipper, so after I zip it up, I can unzip about six inches from the bottom for more bending flexibility. It’s similar to the one pictured at right, but not exactly like it. I got mine at Lands End several years ago, and they don’t make it anymore. Since then I’ve lost weight, so it’s actually too big for me. That’s perfect for clothes designated for garden duty, especially if I want to fit several layers underneath. Polartec fleece is known for being breathable and durable, and they have another line that is wind-resistant as well–which would be even better for late-autumn gardening.

As for the other layers, I wore a camisole underneath a long-sleeved tee shirt. I could have bumped it up to a long-underwear top or a thin sweater over the tee, but I didn’t need to. In fact, I was unzipping my jacket before I was done.

One’s hands are a gardener’s most important tool. They need protection from the elements, especially at this time of year. Let’s face it, even if the rest of your body is warm, if your hands are cold, you’re miserable. I have Frances of Fairegarden to thank for making me aware of these gloves. They don’t have as much dexterity as the Atlas Nitrile Gloves I normally use, but they are sufficient for planting shrubs and bulbs and most other cold-weather tasks.

Don’t forget a hat! You lose a lot of body heat from your head. You’d be surprised at what a difference it makes. The hat I wear, similar to the one at right, doesn’t quite cover my ears as much as I’d like. Maybe one day I’ll get a fleece baseball cap with ear flaps, or this beanie with ear flaps. There’s always improvements to be made, and if you want to enjoy those last days of gardening before the soil either freezes over or gets buried in snow, you need to have “adequate clothing.”

About the title

“There is no bad weather–only inadequate clothing” is a Finnish proverb that I first came across in the Sydney Morning Herald, of all places. According to this map, parts of Finland get as cold as USDA hardiness zones 2b, so they should know.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

If winter is slumber and spring is birth, and summer is life, then autumn rounds out to be reflection. It’s a time of year when the leaves are down and the harvest is in and the perennials are gone. Mother Earth just closed up the drapes on another year and it’s time to reflect on what’s come before.

~Mitchell Burgess in Northern Exposure

Comments on this entry are closed.

Pam's English Garden December 7, 2017, 11:00 pm

This is my first visit to your blog, Kathy, since you kindly visited mine. As a cold-weather gardener (Pocono Mountains of PA) I love the title of this posting. So true. Unfortunately, as I age, I find it hard to be motivated to go outdoors. I prefer to be near the fireplace writing or reading about gardening. I’m going to spend time now reading some of the blogs on your list. P. x

Kathy Purdy December 8, 2017, 9:54 am

I believe I have been to your blog before yesterday, but perhaps I didn’t leave a comment. Glad to have you visit!

Dee A Nash December 7, 2017, 8:20 am

Great post Kathy. I didn’t know about those gloves. Although we don’t get as cold as you do as fast, it’s 29 here today. Thanks so much.~~Dee

Jerie Green December 2, 2017, 7:45 pm

Thank you for this column! It reminds me that I really have no excuse for staying inside as long as it’s light out. There are still clay pots I need to empty, a couple little sections of lawn I want to turn over to expand my garden so they will be easier to dig in the spring, lots of clean-up, throwing some celosia seeds in one area that a friend gave me and hoping some will take, etc. etc. It feels so good to get outside, too.

commonweeder December 2, 2017, 10:27 am

Kathy – This is a great post – because I have been struggling with gardening in town. Somehow I feel I have to look slightly more respectable than when working out in my country garden. I especially appreciate the info about pants! Thank you!

Donna@GardensEyeView December 2, 2017, 8:25 am

I have been gardening as well little by little right through December now as the ground is not frozen. And I agree just need to bundle up properly so thanks for some of these ideas/products. I walk in all weather too so gardening in ‘bad’ weather does not bother me any more.

Lisa at Greenbow December 2, 2017, 7:45 am

This sounds like what I would wear when out during winter. I wear a different style hat though. I find that these kinds of hats soon wiggle off my head. Maybe I am too much of a conehead?? tee hee…