June 16, 2008
Garden Sitting Ethics
From June 12th - June 20th I have agreed to water another gardener's plot while they are away in California. That is really all they asked me to do, except for trying to keep their strawberry plants contained in the the little bricked in area they have for them and to encourage their tomato plants to stay in the cages. All of this probably takes about 15 - 20 minutes every other day unless it rains.
I've only had to water a few times so far, but I've already noticed a few things to feel torn about in terms of my moral obligations as a garden sitter.
1) When I first arrived at their plot, they had a big half-full bag of straw mulch sitting in it. It's gone now. I know they're on vacation so I don't want to bother them, but is it safe to assume that someone else was authorized to take the bag or should I be emailing them about the missing mulch?
2) When I water my own tomatoes I always water just the base of the plant so the water will get to the roots and not the leaves under the theory that tomato plants prefer dry leaves and the water can spread diseases. They didn't specify how to water the tomato plants and it does take longer. Obviously the rain gets everything wet so maybe this whole idea of carefully watering only the ground is a dumb one or a superstition, but I am clearly superstitious and I feel bad treating their tomato plants less well than I would treat my own. How far should I go with this? Prune the suckers? Add fish emulsion?
3) Weeding. I haven't done any weeding in their plot, but it could really use it. I think weeding is going above and beyond, but maybe I'll weed a little bit because of my guilt about their strawberries.....
4) They have all of these ripe strawberries! They're just going to rot out there or attract pests if they aren't harvested so...I've decided that it is ok to take them. I feel mostly like it's the right thing to do, but I am a tiny bit worried that they already promised them to someone else without my knowledge and I am essentially stealing them. I could e mail them, but who wants to be bothered on vacation right?
For now I'll water carefully and keep "stealing" the berries.