He Said, She Said: ‘Little red hen’ hesitant to share garden spoils Print E-mail
Thursday, 23 June 2016
By Shaun and Pamela Collins
Special to GUIDON
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We have a garden, and it has truly been a labor of love because the cost to create and maintain this plot of land could have easily bought a case of vegetables at the case-lot sale.

Co-workers and neighbors all ask how the garden is doing, especially with all the rain we have had. Now that things in the garden are ready to harvest, I am getting comments such as “when you bringing us vegetables?” and “I sure do love a garden-fresh tomato.”  I hate to be the little red hen, but I didn’t ever hear any offers to help weed or plant the produce. I did have cucumbers coming out of my ears, but no one seemed to want them. How should I handle comments on wanting the spoils without the effort of helping?

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HE SAID:  If you wind up with excess, sharing is a great feeling; however, if it is a small garden that only produces enough food for your Family, I would simply explain that and the fact that you only plant enough for you to take care of.  

I might even suggest that in future years, should people want some fresh produce that they can plant, take care of and harvest food from a small portion of your garden (if you have enough space).  Otherwise, tell them you only have sufficient space to grown enough vegetables to feed your Family, but there are several farmers markets in the area that sell very reasonably priced fresh produce. I doubt you will have many takers — as there are a good number of people who always have their hand out … until you put a tool in it.  

SHE SAID:  Our garden produced more tomatoes this year than we knew what to do with.  After canning 12 quarts and eating our fill, we still had a surplus amount which we gladly gave to neighbors and friends who were either too old to tend their own garden or had too much rain and their gardens died.  I say that to let you know you aren’t being selfish anymore than “the little red hen.”  (A reference to a storybook character who attempts to get her lazy friends; a dog, a cat and a duck, to help her in the garden.  They refuse, but are more than willing to help her eat the bread she makes with the wheat she has harvested. She doesn’t).  This is an appropriate story, as I suspect your coworkers are completely capable of planting and growing their own vegetables, and should really be ashamed of themselves for goading you in an  attempt to make you provide them with something  they could have grown  themselves.  

I also suspect they know a great deal about your garden because you talk about it? I wouldn’t talk about it anymore, if this is how they are finding out what a successful gardener you have been. If you have excess, i.e. more than you can eat and have given to others whom you believe are in need, then bringing it in would be alright, although at this point I would probably throw it in the ditch before I would share with people who have such a degree of entitlement. I would also tell them if they enjoy garden fresh vegetables, there are a lot of local stores that are still selling freshly grown vegetables. Maybe they will get the hint.

(Editor’s note: Shaun and Pamela Collins were both career Soldiers with a combined history of military service spanning over a half of a century. They have been where you are, so if you are facing a difficult situation, ask them. Send your question to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it This column and other original content from Mr. and Mrs. Collins can be found at http://militarysuccessnetwork.com. The opinions expressed are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office or the GUIDON.)
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 06 July 2016 )