Last year, the first year of having a vegetable garden, I treated it like a sculpture. The orderly weeded rows were so pretty I didn't want to disturb anything by picking it. I knew people visited other friends' gardens and came away with bags of vegetables and it gave me an uncomfortable feeling - that I might actually be a tightwad. But I pushed that thought back down where it came from and reassured myself that I'd effortlessly join the ranks of the generous in August, when we had things to share.
Weeks turned into months as I weeded the summer away, enjoying the silence and the satisfaction of feeling even dandelion tap roots give up the fight. Every plant in the garden looked gorgeous, thriving, but only the cucumbers demanded that I gather them up. They were numerous and threatening to take over the neighboring rows, growing through the fence and out into the field. These I was happy to share. So you may be surprised to learn that few people want a full grocery bag of cucumbers. I was becoming a public nuisance: "What? Only three? Ever try cucumber gazpacho? And you can purée them for puffy eye masks!"
Late last summer, I graciously offered our neighbors a large bunch of our radishes. Okay so, big deal, they looked more like lumpy red carrots. Your radishes would too if you had rocks and clay for soil. The neighbor bit into a radish and spit it out on the ground: "These are woody! I pick 'em when they're the size of a thumb." I may have sneered at him.
And I began to see that my issue was not just with not wanting to share, but also with forcing things on people. It sounds like I may have a problem with self-will or, more precisely, self will run riot.
This year, we picked the radishes when they were smaller than a thumb. And this year we have a chart for when to pick what, not that the chart is accurate, but it's some kind of a guide.
Also, I learned a trick. The more you pick the sugar snap peas, the more they produce. It may also be true of the arugula and the other vegetables just getting going. This news makes my tight-fisted cheapskate tendencies evaporate like the morning mist. And I have the whole rest of the summer to work on the other issue.