Sarah pushed the tops of her tomato plants apart again, gripping one of the random shoots that sprung off the plant with her bare hands. She pulled it off, then moved to another crowded plant top. As she discarded the removed piece of tomato plant, she noticed yet again the patch of tiny, red dots that had been growing on the back of her right hand. She continued to ignore it, finding other parts of the carefully tended tomato plant that needed removed for the good of the entire vine.
Ever since Sarah had started her garden earlier this spring, her hands had been plagued with these tiny, itchy red welts. She had been mostly ignoring them, hoping that the rashes would just go away, but as the weeks progressed and her garden grew bigger, these annoying rashes did nothing but spread and repopulate themselves. It looked as if a flea colony had taken up residence on her hands, and refused to bite her anywhere else.
Frustrated at the symptoms, Sarah stopped to scratch the unending itch on the back of her right hand before she plucked another young vine from the end of her tomato plant. She knew that these suckers, as they were called, needed to be removed while they were young in order to keep the nutrients in the main vine of the plant. This would make her tomatoes grow large. Her gardening app had taught her this much, but most of growing her first garden had been a mix of transferring knowledge from one type of plant to the other.
Now, with her young garden plants coming up in what was promising to be a harvest that even her grandmother would be proud of, Sarah wished that she had someone with experience to guide her through the little details that the apps all seemed to overlook. She lifted one of the dangling parts of her tomato plant and grabbed a bit of string from the pocket of her faded jeans. She tied this fallen branch of the tomato plant up and onto the wire rack that she had bought for this purpose.
While her back was turned, Sarah her a familiar cry. She rose from her garden plants and turned to see who was calling her. Amanda, her neighbor, came around the corner of the garage and smiled as she greeted her friend.
“So, how’s the garden going?” Amanda asked as she looked over the various garden plants that Sarah had been working so hard on producing.
“Pretty good,” Sarah answered. She pulled another string from her pocket and tied up yet another branch of the tomato plants while she spoke, “My onions all came up nicely, and my peppers are looking wonderful. I’m about to go to war with this tomato plant, though.”
Amanda frowned, noticing the rashes on Sarah’s hands while her friend worked, “What happened to your hands?”
“I’m not sure,” Sarah answered, pausing in her work to show the rashes off to her friend, “They’ve been like this ever since I started my garden.”
Amanda gave Sarah a funny look, “Did you ever consider that you might be allergic to one of your garden plants?”
Sarah returned the strange look, then glanced to her own hands, “But, I’m not allergic to any of the foods I’m growing.”
“You don’t have to be,” Amanda said, “The sap of the garden plants, for lack of a better way of putting it, is different from the vegetables that grow. Get yourself a pair of gardening gloves and wear them while you’re working in the garden from now on. I bet that will heal those rashes right up.”
Sarah smiled, “I hadn’t thought of that. Thanks, Amanda. I’ll go get myself a pair right now.” She turned toward her home then, and ducked inside to grab her purse and her keys. Any idea was worth trying at this point, to make her hands stop their incessant itching.