Bill and I lived in apartments for the first 14 years of our marriage. One of things we talked about a lot was how nice it would be to have a yard in which to grow things.
When we finally had the ground and started gardening it was to put food in our bellies rather than just for the joy of seeing things grow.
If your garden is first and foremost for sustenance, you tend to look at things and do things differently than gardeners who do it just because they enjoy it.
An Extreme (I hope) but True Example:
A neighbor has a beautiful little garden patch about 15′ x 15′. (not organic) He planted romaine lettuce seedlings which are now 5 big heads almost ready to stalk. They have yet to eat the first piece of lettuce.
A couple of dozen onions are at one end. Several have beautiful flower heads. They have yet to eat an onion.
His wife told me they tried to keep the onions in the refrigerator one year but they smelled so bad they threw them away. They just didn’t know what to do with them. (How sad. And he’s a country boy.)
The little garden is made complete with two robust looking rows of potatoes and two of tomatoes. They’ll eat some of these for sure, but he doesn’t know what they’ll do with the abundance.
Somewhere in Between
It’s my guess that most people who garden are somewhere between my way — which utilizes everything in my garden and my neighbor’s way — which doesn’t make use of much, if anything at all.
A lot of folks I know garden. They enjoy what they eat out of their garden, but it’s no big deal if it doesn’t produce. They just as soon buy at the grocery store.
In order to be happy with buying out of the grocery store, folks either don’t know what happens to mass produced food before it reaches them, or for one reason or the other they’ve just shut their eyes to it. Otherwise, they’d be thinking twice about buying it.
Giving it Away
Because of these different reasons behind gardening, there’s a lot of excess that folks don’t know what to do with. So, produce is given away by well meaning gardeners. This is especially true when it comes to summer squash.
In the vast majority of cases the receivers don’t want it any more than the gardener did. And when you think about, why would someone want something from our garden that we don’t want?
I think I know what two of your answers might be: “Because they’re hungry or because they don’t have anything.” Unfortunately, no matter how hungry the vast majority might be in this day and age, it’s not squash they’re hungry for. But rather a McDonald’s burger or a steak.
Many in today’s age know nothing of fresh wholesome vegetables and how to cook them. I’ve read news reports of people receiving canned vegetables as part of a “fight hunger” program. When they moved years later, the canned vegetables remained in the cabinets. It then became clear: what was given was not part of their diet and they wouldn’t eat it.
Dealing with Excess
One of the most beneficial ways to deal with excess in your garden is to turn it into the soil and let it give you some of the valued organic matter that’s hard to get enough of. It’s one way to help insure next years crops will be bountiful. And not one bit will be wasted!
Unless you absolutely know for sure that someone wants what you’re offering, resist the urge to give your excess. Most likely you’ll come out way ahead if you dig it in.
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