Gardening Harvesting

Peaches.

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I am almost speechless. And proud. And have been doling out these  h o m e g r o w n  peach beauties to those willing to eat them over the sink or out of doors, where their juice can drip freely down our chins.

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These lovely fruits taught me a fine lesson. 

I planted our two peach trees—one Red Haven, one Reliance—back in May of 2009 right after the Fedco Tree Sale. They were beauties, and I sited them down near the pond, where they could bask in the sunshine and welcome visits from the honeybees. They flank the raspberry patch, which made sense to me at the time, given how much I love peach raspberry pie.

They've done beautifully. I was shocked by their second summer, when they produced 24 downright floral fruits. But my south-facing siting, where they warm up early, beside by the pond, where late frosts settle first, caught me off guard in their third season: The cold killed their early buds, and we got no fruit at all. This year was their fourth, and they were LOADED with fruit. The new beehive is a short flight away, and our mild spring meant that I didn't even have to cover them when a late frost threatened. It never did.

And yet, I did not thin them. I'd never had to before, and I really didn't think about it until the smaller but more beautiful of the two trees, the one I smile at every time I drive up the drive, the one with the loveliest shape, snapped to the ground under the weight of its fruit. The main stem cracked (perhaps with help from something climbing it, given that all of the fruit was gone). I was devastated. I'd waited patiently and checked regularly for the time when I could harvest just early enough to outwit the squirrels and finish the final ripening indoors. I waited too long, and it is now half the tree it once was.

So, I quickly thinned the other tree (turns out, it takes no time at all!) and left the best fruit, which wasn't yet ripe. Choosing the cream of the crop suddenly didn't seem as hard as thinning seedlings always is for me, given the alternative. Then, we left town on a trip. About a week later, the fruit that remained looked 50% larger. It oozed peachy promise. And this much bigger tree held off the casual nibbling passersby long enough for me to harvest a couple trays of my favorite fruit of all.

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Some people meditate, and maybe I will, too, one day. For now, I wander through the garden. And when I look at my broken peach tree, I'm reminded: Fewer are better. Fewer are better. Fewer are better.  

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