He Said She Said – The Banana Thief!

Today we’re bringing you another round of He Said/She Said. These posts are really your chance as readers to hear how discussions (and sometimes disagreements) play out when managing our lives with each other. For a look at some of the past He Said/She Said discussions – check ‘em out here.


She’s pretty excited about the bananas…

Our He Said She Said posts have slowed down in frequency a bit, largely because we haven’t really been disagreeing lately. But, something started to grow recently that has brought an old issue where we agree to disagree back to the front burner.

So what’s growing? Bananas. Our neighbor’s bananas to be specific.

There’s a nice little bunch of bananas growing just a few feet beyond our property line that I look at and lust after. I’m eagerly waiting for the day they turn yellow and drop to the ground at which point I will most likely swoop in and grab ALL THE BANANAS.

Mr. PoP thinks this is stealing and crosses the boundary of frugality. I say it’s gleaning and a practice endorsed by the Bible…

She Said


A pile of gleaned mini bananas, and two traditional grocery store bananas for scale.

So let me set this up a little more. I’m convinced our neighbors have absolutely no clue these banana plants exist. These bananas grow between our back patio and the side of our neighbors’ house. They’re not viewable from any point inside their house, and to top it off, this isn’t our neighbors’ permanent residence. It’s a vacation home, and they own at least two other homes that they split their time between. So, cumulatively, I think they spend about 4 months/year living next to us and precisely 0 seconds/year contemplating their banana plants.

Could I remind them about their bounty?  Perhaps.  But I’ve only spoken to them a couple of times (offering help with flat tires), so it might be awkward to walk up the next time they’re around and say, “Hi!  I glean your fruit when you’re not around so it doesn’t rot on the ground.  Is that okay?”

These bananas (and this is now the 3rd bunch I’m eyeing) always seem to sprout and grow when our neighbors are out of town. So if they happen to ripen and fall when the neighbors are gone, I feel like I’m being neighborly in picking them up before they can attract pests. If I were to leave them to rot there until the landscapers make their weekly visit it’d probably be pretty gross.

I’ve tried gleaning other fruit from this yard as it falls (the papayas have so far all been maggot ridden), but the bananas were a huge win when they fell from the banana plant around this time last year. I gathered up a TON of tiny bananas (this banana plant is the variety that produces the little 3-4″ bananas) and made a lot of tasty banana bread.


Waiting for the sea grapes to ripen!

In fact, it was such a success that I’m not only eyeing this new batch of bananas and hoping it ripens before our neighbors come back into town, but I’ve also got my eyes on the bumper crop of sea grapes on some vacant lots by the beach that are taking their sweet time to ripen. Sea grape jelly is apparently an old traditional Florida recipe, and I can’t think of a better way to try it than with some awesome gleaned sea grapes!

And I bet Mr PoP will like the sea grape jelly just as much as he enjoyed all that banana bread.

He Said

I love my wife, but she has a bit of a cunning streak that makes me nervous sometimes. We’re both upstanding members of this community, pay our taxes and exchange pleasantries on our nightly walks. You would never guess that in the dark of night she’ll sneak into somebody’s backyard and steal their bananas.  [Mrs PoP – it was the middle of the afternoon and I bet my feet were still on our property for the bananas!  The papaya is another story…  I was definitely in their yard for those.]

While she loves to quote bible verse, allow me to quote directly from the Florida Criminal Statutes-

(1) A person commits theft if he or she knowingly obtains or uses, or endeavors to obtain or to use, the property of another with intent to, either temporarily or permanently:

(a) Deprive the other person of a right to the property or a benefit from the property.
(b) Appropriate the property to his or her own use or to the use of any person not entitled to the use of the property.

Oddly enough, I love the idea of dumpster diving. What gets me is our neighbors have no idea this is going on! With dumpster diving, somebody essentially said “I am done with this item, and hope to never see it again.” The only difference is in who picks the item up-you or the trash man.

So what do you think? Is Mrs PoP stealing or gleaning?


80 comments to He Said She Said – The Banana Thief!

  • I think this is OK as long as the neighbours aren’t staying at the holiday home when they drop (otherwise they might want them). Picking them off the tree isn’t ok, but once they hit the ground it is reasonable to assume that animals will eat them or they will decompose.
    Financial Independence recently posted..What is financial independence?My Profile

  • Hilarious. Great post from both of you. I think gleaning was more along the lines of a welfare system in the Bible, but I don’t think it would be odd to take a bunch of bananas to the neighbors (if they are home) and let them know what you found on the property line. You’d probably get a pretty good reading as to whether they mind you picking them!
    FI Pilgrim recently posted..Smaller House, Larger Life!My Profile

  • Just ask if you can have the bananas. They will probably say yes then you can take the bananas before they fall on the ground and get bruised. No one likes food waste and they will encourage you to come on to their property and stop good food from going to waste.

    Bananas don’t grow here. It is the end of summer and the leaves have started to change colour.
    Jane Savers @ Solving The Money Puzzle recently posted..When To Sell, Rates Are Up, Windows Are Alarmed And Money Quickies For August 25,2013My Profile

    • They probably won’t be around til after Thanksgiving at the earliest, maybe even the new year, so I’ll have to wait a while to talk to them!

  • I think its fine. Growing up we always had too many apples, and we were thankful that the neighborhood kids would glean them before they rotted. I say, give it 24 Hrs and of they are still on the ground. You’re good to go.

  • I would’ve eaten them already.

    My next door neighbors have tomato plants and I go and take a tomato almost every day. There are probably 25 ripe ones at this very moment and they’re not even picking them. A few years ago, they said “take a tomato any time” so I’m just assuming that that offer stands FOREVER =)
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted..Get Rich Quick? Not So FastMy Profile

    • CincyCat

      We’ve told our next-door neighbors that they are welcome to help themselves to our chopped wood pile since they have an outdoor fire pit. We hardly ever use ours, and some of the wood is already starting to decompose. We’ve also invited each other to help ourselves to our gardens (grammar?? LOL!) if we’re out of town, since the tomatoes, strawberries, etc. will go bad, or be eaten by animals before we get home. We’ve also mowed our next door neighbor’s yard when her house was on the market, and she couldn’t get back to our side of town very often since she had already moved.

      That said, I would feel a little weirded out if another neighbor that I did not know very well was in our backyard helping themselves to our garden or wood. I probably wouldn’t mind if they asked us first, but I would want to know if they were planning to be in our yard while we weren’t home.

      • It just depends. These are on the side of their house which is right next to the deck in my back yard.

        I probably wouldn’t feel as comfortable doing it if it was in their back yard or further into their property! But again, they told me a long time ago to please take whatever I want since they can’t possibly eat them all (they’re an elderly couple in their 80’s, super sweet) so I don’t feel bad at all. There are a ton of super ripe ones out there right now that I would totally take if we would eat them, but we’re only able to eat one per day or so. I hate watching them hit the ground and rot.
        Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted..Get Rich Quick? Not So FastMy Profile

      • We live on a little lake, so no one has fenced in backyards, and sometimes people walk from yard to yard without it being a big deal. Usually it’s when someone’s out on the banks fishing or wandering around trying to get a better view of the wildlife in the lake.

  • Wow, this is a tough one and it’s Monday morning (brain not up to full speed), so I’ll give a crappy answer. I’d probably ask the neighbor again. Unless they are insane, I’m sure they’ll say “Yes.” However, if you tried a couple times and couldn’t get a hold of them, I’d say go for it.

    Man’s laws and the laws of religion differ. I’m wading into dangerous territory (discussion about religion), but I think that the bible endorses slavery too.
    Mr. 1500 recently posted..10 Questions with Buck from Bucking the TrendMy Profile

  • Hey Mrs. Pop, great post here as always. First off, I’d like to say that if there is food going to waste and someone eats it, it’s not stealing, it’s making use of waste and, I like to call it recycling. Anyway, I’ll see ya around!
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  • CincyCat

    I think the neighbors would most likely be perfectly fine with Mrs. PoP helping herself to the bananas, but I think it would be the right thing to do to make sure they are aware she is doing this since it is technically their property. Mrs. PoP could also sweeten the deal (pun intended!) if she offered to freeze a loaf of her tasty homemade banana bread & save it for them to enjoy the next time they are in town. I’m not sure if banana bread freezes well, but it might be worth a try! :)

    • That seems like an excellent idea. Banana bread does freeze really well! I can hold onto it in the freezer until they get back near the holidays.

  • Meg

    The correct answer is that bananas taste dreadful and should be left alone. (Sorry, I dislike them.)

    But have you considered just asking your neighbor if you can go pick their fruit? People have often let me do that, just for asking. Falling, rotting fruit is a pain and attracts pests, so if they aren’t going to consume it themselves, it’s in their best interests to let you.
    Meg recently posted..Fiscal Friday: A Money Order of PreferenceMy Profile

    • haha, I love bananas! I think I’m going to have to figure out a way to remember to talk to them in a few months when they’re back. =)

  • Hahaha this made me laugh. The idea of a banana thief! Maybe you can offer your neighbor a nice trade. It would also be a chance to build the friendship.
    Debt and the Girl recently posted..Marriage, Kids, and More Thoughts on Today…My Profile

  • This post was hilarious – I can just imagine Mrs. PoP in all black and a ski mask taking the bananas. 😉 I wouldn’t necessarily call it stealing, but I would probably just ask just to be on the full disclosure side. It sounds like they’ll most likely say yes, anyway, since they’re not really around?
    anna recently posted..DC vs. Marvel: Who Rules the Box Office?My Profile

    • haha, I do look hot in black! =) Sounds like the verdict is that I should mention it to them next time they’re in town and make sure they’re cool with it.

  • Anne

    Once they’re on the ground it’s waste, and I’d rather Mrs. PoP eat them than have them rotting in my yard!

    That said I’d probably mention something the next time you see them along the lines of, “Hey so-and-so, I noticed you have some fruit trees in your backyard and when you’re out of town the fruit tends to rot on the ground. If it’s OK with you I’d be happy to pick the ripe pieces off when you can’t use them to keep that from happening.” I don’t know anyone who would say “NO! Let it ROT!”, but it would make Mr. PoP feel better, plus you could get the papayas before they hit the ground :)

    • I like the script. =) As for the papayas, unless I get a big long pole with a basket on the end, they have to wait until they fall. The papayas are probably 15-20′ high in the tree!

  • I’m with you Mrs. POP. I would’t pick then off the tree but if they fell-fair game! And how awesome. I wish my neighbors had an avocado tree that had fruit that fell…I would totally be on that.
    Budget and the Beach recently posted..Celebrate Your UniquenessMy Profile

  • Debbie M

    If they have fallen to the ground while the owners are out of town, statute 1a does not apply–the owners have deprived themselves of the fruit by being out of town at the wrong time. 1b, however, still stands, at least for stuff that falls on their own side of the fence. And maybe for all bananas–if a kid’s ball accidentally got tossed into your yard, of course you’d give it back. Even if it was a really good ball and you wanted it.

    So here’s another vote for talking to the neighbors (love FI Pilgrim’s approach). Plus people who are out of town will actually pay people to keep an eye on their property, so you may actually be providing a service they will like. And what’s the worst thing that can happen? You will find out that they want their own bananas (the world is still a happier place) or you will find out that they are jerks, which is a good thing to find out the easy way instead of waiting until they call the city on you because your grass is a little too long or whatever.

    • I think it’s doubtful they’re jerks. They actually went out and bought flowers for us because I offered help one day when they got a flat tire in their driveway. They didn’t even end up needing the help but still brought flowers over to say thanks. =)

      • Debbie M

        Yea! Well, eventually they will come back. Meanwhile, having seen more details, I vote for taking the fruit. Also, stay observant in case whoever’s dealing with their mail and whatnot also gets dibs on the fruit. I like the banana bread plan, too!

  • If you know for a fact that they’re gone and fetching them doesn’t involve climbing over fences, I say go for it. But if they do return, I’d bring it up next time and mention how much of a banana fan you are!

    Also, I’m totally jealous. No tropical fruits grow up here in NY…
    Tara @ Streets Ahead Living recently posted..I had a different post…My Profile

  • More votes = right side of the argument, correct? Someone should eat those bananas. If the neighbors are there, don’t take them. If the house is empty, you’re doing them a favor.

    Mrs. PoP can email me for the address to send the $10 for this vote. 😉
    AverageJoe recently posted..Winning the Money Management War – Stacking Benjamins #18My Profile

  • My only thought would be to at least mention it to your neighbors. Given the fact that they are gone when they drop all the time, I wouldn’t think they would get upset over it. This way you can glean the bananas and have peace of mind that you have been rubber stamped.
    Micro recently posted..Would you move to find work?My Profile

  • Just talk with the neighbors! They won’t object to you taking them if they are out of town and your conscience will be clear. You can even cross into their yard. You can offer to save up the ripe ones for the few days before they come into town if they tell you their schedule or something.

    Also, I’m pretty sure gleaning is for, like, the homeless and destitute – not ballers like y’all!
    Emily @ evolvingPF recently posted..Does Less Exposure to Commercials Translate to Fewer Wants?My Profile

  • I would TOTALLY do this. If you wanted to take the high road, you can always pretend you’ve never done it before and go over and ask your neighbours to pick their bananas (oh hey, next year when your bananas ripen, can I pick them? I’ll bring over some banana bread). Offer them a loaf of banana bread or something.

    Personally, I wouldn’t sweat it and keep on making that delicious banana bread. Nicely done buddy.
    Lindsey @ Sense & Sensibility recently posted..Spend Less Money & Weekly ReviewMy Profile

  • If I liked bananas enough, I would probably do it. If the neighbors are barely even there, and you take the bananas in their absence, I don’t see anything too wrong with it. They’re just going to waste otherwise! If it would make you feel a bit better about it, I would mention it in passing and say what you did here – you were concerned about pests. This way it seems like you’re being nice and don’t have an ulterior motive :).
    E.M. recently posted..Two Sides: Car Accident EditionMy Profile

  • Debbie

    It seems the consensus is to take the bananas after they fall, save a loaf of banana bread for the neighbors and talk to them when they return.

    I do take issue with one statement…“Also, I’m pretty sure gleaning is for, like, the homeless and destitute – not ballers like y’all!”

    Really? In many cases gleaning helps keep people from becoming homeless and destitute. It’s practical and fiscally responsible.

    • I think Emily was referring to the biblical references that require farmers to leave a portion of their crop to be gleaned rather than harvesting all of it for sale. In this case none of the crop is being harvested anyway, so it might not really fit the biblical definition of gleaning?

  • You guys are too funny. Many people want to get rid of fruit off of trees! We were happy to let people take it when we had fruit trees.
    SuburbanFInance recently posted..Grow Rich with Real EstateMy Profile

  • The bananas are all yours. I’ve actually had a conversation about this with a friend about an apple tree. I believe in Colorado, you are allowed to take fruit if it falls to the ground, but I’m not sure if that only is for things that hang over a fence or if trespassing laws prevail if you have to go into someone’s yard.

    That being said, anyone I’ve ever know with a tree or plant that grows something is always needing to give some away. We used to have pecan and walnut trees growing up and my Mom couldn’t get rid of those things fast enough to keep the hazard of making the driveway seem like roller derby at bay.
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  • It’s the three second rule, any bananas on the ground is open season. I often eye my neighbor’s mango tree.
    charles@gettingarichlife recently posted..Fighting The Urge To Waste Money By Tying My Money Up In InvestmentsMy Profile

  • Team Mrs. POP. They are out of town. The fruit would rot. It would be wasteful not to. The next time your neighbors are in town next, confess. (I have a peach tree. And those suckers attract bugs like no other when they fall to the ground. It’s actually quite gross.)
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    • ooh, I can imagine the peaches being gross when they land. Those things bruise and have the skin break so easily! But so tasty, too =)

  • I think Mrs. Pop is probably correct in a lot of her assumptions, but it’s probably not totally fair to just assume. If they would otherwise rot before the neighbors are back, I think you can take them without guilt. But once they’re back I would ask them about it. I’m sure they won’t have any problem with it and then you can continue gleaning guilt-free.
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    • You’re probably right. What’s the saying, “to assume is to make an ASS out of U and ME” ? I’m probably going to have to wander over and ask next time they’re in town. And I’ll try and smooth the way with some homemade banana bread. =)

  • Mrs. PoP, you would make an EXCELLENT criminal defense attorney. :-) I don’t think I’ve heard a better argument in favor of stealing. You actually made it sound acceptable! I have to agree with Matt on this one, though. Ask ’em.
    Laurie @thefrugalfarmer recently posted..Is Your Air Conditioner on Your Side Against Debt?My Profile

    • haha, thanks Laurie. I think? I’ve been told many times that I’d make a good lawyer since I’m very good at finding exceptions and cases that haven’t been covered. But that also makes me a good at my current job, too!

  • PK

    Hilarious – we have an orange tree in the front which attracts all sorts of people off the sidewalk into our yard (all filmed in glorious 1080p!). The other day a particularly brazen set of teenagers threw an orange at the house, and dumped their peels back in their yard.

    That crosses a line.

    For the record, when people ask, we’re very fruit-generous – we even have one of those picker pole things (we also have a bunch of other trees with impossible to reach fruits).
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    • Throwing your own orange at your house? That’s brazen.

      Oranges around here tend to be asking for trouble from teenagers – they’re often juicing varieties instead of eating, so people who bite into them are sorely disappointed and often leave a big mess. That and they are tempting projectiles. We’re looking to get rid of one in the backyard of our duplex soon.

  • The law here (and probably most everywhere) is that if anything crosses your fenceline, it’s yours. So if a neighbor’s apple tree limb grows beyond my fence, I have the right to cut that limb off, eat the apples from that limb, etc. Going onto their yard and taking their fruit would be stealing, but if the neighbor didn’t want it, they’d usually just appreciate you taking it if you asked first.
    Pretired Nick recently posted..Tame your housing costs to ensure a safe pretirementMy Profile

    • There’s no fence, and the plants are definitely on their side of the berm that separates our lots, so I think I’m gonna have to ask. =)

  • Come mista’ Tallyman, tally POP’s bananas.
    No Waste recently posted..Waste Of The WeekMy Profile

  • The banana tree is hanging over onto your side of the yard and falling on to your ground. I have to say I’m with you Mrs. Pop. Honestly, the bananas will just go to waste if you don’t eat it.
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    • They’re definitely going to waste, but bananas don’t really hang over at all (they’re a pretty compact plant), so I think I’m going to be better off if I ask. =)

  • I enjoyed reading this post! I think Mrs. Pop is gleaning because I can relate to your situation we have a mango tree here in our neighbor’s area and the property owner only visits his land once a year. So we always harvested his sweet mangoes!
    Clarisse @ Make Money Your Way recently posted..How to analyze a property as an investmentMy Profile

  • Once they hit the ground they’re fair game. They’re totally going to go to waste if you don’t snag them. Plus, like you said, they might be attracting rodents and wildlife-you’d basically be doing them a favor!
    KK @ Student Debt Survivor recently posted..Tell Me About Your First TimeMy Profile

  • In France anything that grows over your land (even if the roots are in the neighbor’s land) is yours. You can pick the fruits in the tree up to the limit wall of the property. If they are never here anyway I would totally eat the bananas. I even entered my neighbor’s land because his rhubarb was huge and I knew he wouldn’t come back for month.
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  • This post made my day! The quote from the Florida statute cracked me up! I’m not picking sides though.
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  • […] Mrs. Pop from Planting Our Pennies argues with her husband about whether taking bananas from the neighbors is gleaning or stealing. […]

  • I think it is more wise to get those bananas rather than leave it to get rotten or be eaten by animals.
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