Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ethical Dilemmas

Last summer, I was not the only gardener on our rooftop. Midway through the summer, three pots showed up, much prettier than my reclaimed versions. However, they were horribly overcrowded. 

The small pot in the back had four pepper plants, and the big one in the middle had both an eggplant and a strawberry plant. I can't remember what was planted in the medium pot in the foreground. When I finally ran into the gardeners, I didn't have the heart to tell them that they hadn't even planted their strawberries until long after strawberry season was over, not to mention that there was no way there was enough room in those little pots to grow all those different plants. Besides, I was pretty much a novice at this myself - who was I to correct someone else? I think they got one pepper on one of their pepper plants, and that was the extent of their harvest.

Now, I'm pretty sure that last summer's gardeners are not gardening this summer. I haven't seen them over the past few weeks, their pots haven't been moved an inch since I put them back after the hurricane,* and last season's dead stalks haven't been removed. But . . . they're not all dead stalks. The strawberry plant is still alive, and this year - in season - it's bearing fruit.

When I noticed it flowering, I started watering it occasionally. I haven't babied it, but whenever I've had a bit of extra water after I'm done taking care of my plants, I've given it a drink. Now it's got four strawberries, one of them approaching ripeness. 

Like I said, I don't think the couple who planted it are still paying attention. They may not even still live here. Or I could be wrong. I could have missed them. Maybe I've just been giving this plant extra water, because its owners have been taking care of it all along.

I'm pretty confident that's not the case, but I can't be sure. So the big question is:

Do I eat the strawberries?

Let me know what you think in the comments!

Doesn't it just look good enough to eat?

*Being the only person to spend so much time on the roof gives me a feeling of responsibility for it. When Hurricane Sandy was approaching, I pulled all of my pots in off the roof, but felt like I couldn't leave everything else up there to become projectiles, so I pulled in the other pots, too, as well as all of the chairs (whose origins and ownership are uncertain). Then I put it all back where it came from.


  1. Hmmmm. Put a note for the owners on the pots? And then if it's not gone by the time all the strawberries are ripe, then eat them? Because if they don't get the note by then, they're obviously not checking on them.

    I can't let produce go to waste just because someone forgot about it. If you feel really bad, maybe offer them some of your produce when it's ripe as payment? They'd probably like that.

  2. I also would hate to let it go to waste, esp. because they look yummy! I like the idea of leaving a note but not exactly sure what you would say.... Vince says you can also eat like 1 or 2 at first, once their ripe just to be safe, and see if anybody else ends up taking the rest? We both think you should just eat them eventually :)