Tag Archives: allergies

Caution: Gardening can be hazardous to your health

Okay, perhaps just to mine. Earlier this summer I ended up planting 48 heirloom Brandywine tomato plants (due to a slight communication failure), which was about 40 plants more than I had intended but at the end of a long and exhausting afternoon they were all planted and ready to grow.  I lost one this summer due to some wind damage, but figured that was an extraordinary survival percentage on the others.  Despite the lack of water this summer and some pretty hot days for our area, the plants have grown and yielded a massive amount of tomatoes on the vine, and finally they are starting to ripen for picking.

That brings us to today, and my declaration that I will never plant tomatoes again. I’ve been really worried about them because they are growing to enormous size (seriously, these guys are getting UGLY big) but staying green and my Dad suggested that I needed to get in there and remove all the excess foliage on the plants and allow the sunlight to reach more of the tomatoes to ripen them (ah…. so that’s what they mean by “sun-ripened tomatoes”….).  I headed out with clippers in hand and got to work, clearing away all the extra green and weeds (weeding gardens is NOT my thing… I tend to let nature take over a bit  too much between the rows).  Within 15 minutes I was sneezing to beat the band.  30 minutes in I am making such good progress on the plants and filling up a bucket with all the ripe ones that I find in there, becoming rather oblivious to my constant sneezing – it’s nearly fall, sometimes I get a little sneezy, not a problem. After an hour it becomes very apparent to me that I am having a hard time breathing in between all the sneezing, and my ears and throat are burning and itching, and now that I look, my arms and hands are covered in a bright red rash that is itching like crazy, and my fingers look like they are swelling… hmmm…maybe I should go inside…

Then I try to get a drink and realize I can’t really swallow very well, and geez, actually talking is a bit hard too. I found some children’s Benadryl to take, and then started to worry a bit as I realize this is a fairly intense allergic reaction.  Not being able to breathe gets a bit scary and I have a new-found empathy for asthmatics. I don’t know what exactly I got into out there, but hours later I am sitting here with an insanely itchy rash on my hands, watery eyes, scratchy throat and still a little short on breath, and a couple hundred tomatoes still out there, waiting for me….  attack of the killer tomatoes, indeed.  I think I will REALLY enjoy scalding the heck out of them making salsa this week… assuming I live long enough to actually get them out of the garden.  The battle is on, this round goes to the tomatoes.


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