Monday, April 13, 2015

Gardener Needs To Grow A Heart Full Of Caring

Dear Tazi:

I am an avid gardener who grows everything from seeds. I live in an apartment, and every spring I plant my vegetables and herbs in pots on my large balcony. Since I have limited space, I only plant a few of each crop - tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, eggplant, peppers, lettuce, etc. as well as various herbs for cooking. My vine vegetables hang down off of the balcony, but I keep them trimmed so they are not encroaching on my downstairs neighbors' space.

Every year, my neighbors admire my garden and tell my how lovely it looks. I always offer to show them how to plant and tend to their own gardens, and a few have even taken me up on the offer! Invariably, some people will always ask me to "share" any extra vegetables, but I tell them that I really don't have any extra - my husband and children love fresh veggies and eat them as soon as they are picked!

I have one neighbor who just does not get the message that my vegetables are for my family, not the neighbors. She will admire my garden, comment on how much money I must save growing my own veggies, talk about the high cost of food nowadays, and always ask for some of what I have grown. I politely refuse her and offer to show her how to grow her own garden, but she argues that she does not have the time to tend a garden, and that she does not have a "green thumb".

The growing season has begun again, and I am once again expecting my neighbor to not-so-subtly hint that she would like a portion of my garden's bounty. Short of telling her off, how can I get it through her head that my vegetables are not up for grabs?

Urban Gardener

Dear Urban Gardener:

Your family must eat a lot of vegetables in order to go through the bounty of a few of each plant! My Mommie keeps a vegetable garden, so I know that a single tomato plant can result in over 30 tomatoes a month! Her cucumber plants result in even more, and her summer squash plants, while not so bountiful, do grow large fruits. I will give you the benefit of the doubt, though, and assume that you and your family do, indeed, devour all of these veggies.

It sounds to me that your neighbor is having difficulty keeping up with her food bills, and is hoping that you might share what appears to be excess. Fresh vegetables are expensive, and herbs even more so. Rather than shoot down your neighbor, might you plant an extra seed or two and present your neighbor with some seedlings and watering instructions? Tomatoes and cucumbers are hearty plants that do not require a whole lot of attention, just daily watering and plenty of sun. Once she realizes that she can successfully grow her own she will be more inclined to try, and thus less inclined to constantly ask you for your veggies. The extra effort put forth on your part will result in a harvest of good-will among your neighbors, and a good feeling in your heart knowing that you have helped someone in need. Consider the favors others have granted you in your life, and consider this a way of paying it forward.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.


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