What could possibly be better than gardening on a beautiful sunny day? Just being able to feel the warmth of the sun and listen to the birds chirp is enough to remind me how wonderful life is. But wait. I forgot to check the “UV Index” before going outside! Being a master gardener is not only about horticulture. It’s also about protecting ourselves from the damaging rays of the sun so we can keep on gardening. If you’ve ever had a sunburn, you have felt some of the bad effects of too much sun and ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
It is common knowledge that too many UV rays can cause skin cancer. But, did you know that UV rays can cause skin damage during any season or at any temperature!

Other effects of too much sun include; older looking skin, cataracts and other eye damage. Here are a few precautions from The American Academy of Dermatology to reduce our risk of sun-related illness.

  • Generously apply a water-resistant sunscreen with a SPF of at least 15 that provides broad-spectrum protection from both ultraviolet A (UV A) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays to all exposed skin. Re-apply every two hours, even on cloudy days.
  • Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
  • Seek shade when appropriate, remembering that the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If your shadow is shorter than you are, seek shade.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency Sun Wise website also advises to “Watch for the UV Index”. The UV Index was developed by the National Weather Service (NWS) and EPA, and predicts the next day’s ultraviolet radiation levels on a 1-11+ scale. The UV Index helps people determine appropriate sun-protective behaviors. You can check the UV Index at the EPA website below, along with Medline Plus and The American Academy of Dermatology for additional information about being wise in the sun.
    * http://medlineplus.gov/
    * http://www.epa.gov/sunwise/uvindex.html
    * http://www.aad.org/public/sun/smart.html
    * (These tips were published in June 2008. Links to content outside East Texas Gardening may become inactive over time.)

Jean Hudgins, Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service


As a nurse, I stay in my preventive-care mode and am always looking for ways to keep people healthy in gardening or in any other activity. Wearing a hat outside is just as essential as wearing gloves or shoes. Hats help protect your
body from harm, and you will look stylish and smart as well.

Hats are beneficial in various ways. Primarily they protect your face and head from the harmful UV rays of the sun. Even on cloudy days, some UV rays still come through the clouds. In the warmer months of the year, the earth is
closer to the sun, so these UV rays are more intense and more damaging. Our atmosphere is not as protective as it used to be, allowing more UV rays through to our skin. This means that the occurrences of skin cancer increase
dramatically. The fair-skinned folks are really more susceptible to this than others. Also repeated exposure to the sun causes our skin to become more leathery and wrinkled prematurely. Who wants that?

Hats shade our faces and heads to keep us cool while we garden. It is also a good idea to wear sunblock, a lotion that puts a protective layer on our skins to block harmful rays of the sun, on areas of the body that will be exposed
while outside.

Susan Goins, former Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Posted in Sun Gardening