Tomatoes, sunscreen, and too much sun

Nearly bursting out of the bottoms of their pots, my tomato plants are begging to be installed in the garden, but my last average frost date hasn't come and gone just yet. So, to buy myself a little extra time,  I stuck them in slightly larger pots yesterday. The job wouldn't take long, so I'd skipped the sunscreen and left my trusty gardening hat indoors. Thanks to all that thinning ozone, the sun's rays beat down on me as though it were August or July rather than early May. I would have to grab that hat of mine after all -- and throw on a long-sleeved shirt while I was at it. It's a shame, but gardeners really can't afford to skimp on sun protection these days.

Still, I am not one for slathering on the sunscreen. Digging up new garden beds or hand cultivating my existing ones really gets me sweating, and reapplying every 30 minutes or so just hasn't been practical for me. Besides, I dislike the idea of all of those plastic bottles and tubes I would go through -- not to mention the energy used to manufacture, package, and ship said bottles and tubes in the first place. So I've hit on a better plan. I'll be investing in some "sun-protective" clothing this year. Although typically worn by sun-sensitive folks with special medical conditions, the tightly woven, floppy hats and lightweight, long-sleeved shirts could serve gardeners like me quite well.

There's even a product for enhancing the sun protection factor of the rest of my wardrobe. Known as SunGuard, once tossed in the washing machine, it's said to help clothing block over 96 percent of the sun's rays. (Sounds good, but I wonder just what's in it and how it might affect area waterways. . .) Now, were I more gadget-oriented, I could instead opt for one of those high-tech "personal monitors" to let me know when I've had just about enough of those UV rays. And, last but certainly not least, remember those tomatoes I potted up? Turns out they can afford a little sun protection, too.