For those of you who do not know - the leaves of these plants have serrated edges. In fact, the stems are also rough on some of these. And, there is really no good way to get around the fact that they are harsh enough to give you some light cuts as you work to harvest the fruit.
This may not seem like a very big deal if you are harvesting two or three hills of each of these. But, when you tend to plant things in 50 or 60 foot rows and you usually have multiples of those rows - these plants can actually do some real damage to you - especially early in the season when you aren't used to it. After the first major picking this year, my forearms felt a bit like I'd had a pretty good sunburn. But, it was a pretty cloudy day AND I had sunblock on. On the other hand, I did have ALOT of those cuts on my arms. So, that gives you an idea of how it can feel.
Obvious solutions include wearing long sleeves when picking and/or being a bit more deliberate with the picking in an effort to avoid the scratches. Option 2 is rarely feasible given the volume of things we have to pick. Option 1 is yet another matter.
Why don't I make sure to have long sleeves (and maybe even gloves) when I pick these things?
- How can I be a macho farmer if I protect my arms? This is a very important point and should not be ignored.
- I put my farmer's tan in danger if I cover up my forearms. This is also very important since my looks are my life.
- I am simply too busy to be bothered by such things. Or at least, I think I am. This is, again, very important because I need to feel that I am a very important, busy person.
Actually, the real reasons are a bit more practical. First, I've found that long sleeves (and even gloves) leave the most sensitive part of my forearm - the wrist - open to damage. In fact, they get beat up even more when I wear this gear. And, worse, the rubbing from both actually irritates and bothers me more. And, second, I do find that I get better at being an efficient picker that can move leaves around with fewer cuts. And, finally, I do tend to toughen up after the first few pickings.