Last year Tripp and I learned a big lesson about pruning with regards to growing peaches. But I also learned a really big lesson about how important pruning is to my life as well. Like my garden, my life is a work in progress. But believe with my whole heart that this is the work of living and growing. And I believe it’s worth it.
A few weeks ago, Tripp and I made the short drive to Porter to get some peaches.
Livesay Orchard is about four miles outside of the town of Porter and sells peaches by the bushels. And because the Porter Peach Festival was going, there were lots of folks, just like us, who were there to stock up on this delicious, delectable, and delightful summer fruit.
So Tripp and I parked across the street from the barn and made our way through the crowds of carts and wagons to get to the peach stand. In addition to a half-bushel of Redhaven peaches (freestone peaches that are easy to cut and pit) we also snagged a couple of cantaloupes and one really nice watermelon.
Now if you’ve been reading my blog for very long at all, you might be wondering why we drove all the way out to the country to buy peaches when we have a peach tree in our very own backyard.
The reason for that is because we didn’t have any peaches on our tree this year.
Tripp and I were both surprised by this considering that we had such a good crop last year (finally after three years!). Then, early this spring, our tree was covered in pale pink blossoms (the self-fertile variety which need no other pollen for fertilization). And the bees! Our tree was practically humming with busy little honeybees.
Around the middle of April, after the flowers faded, we had lots of little baby peaches – about the size of a big grape. But we noticed that over the course of the spring, none of them had filled out. And the little ones that were left had started to shrivel up and fall off.
Well I take that back…we had one peach that looked normal – ONE! – but about a month ago a squirrel got to it. Bastard!
At any rate, all of this is to say our tree didn’t have any peaches this year. And it was a bummer.
Over the course of the past month, we’ve been doing a little research about why our tree didn’t produce any fruit. And the consensus from the interwebs is that we didn’t have any peaches because we didn’t prune our tree this year. Turns out, annual pruning is more critical for peaches than for any other type of fruit tree.
If you’re curious, pruning a peach tree serves many functions. First, pruning helps to create a strong structure and shape that can withstand the weight of the fruit as it ripens. Also, pruning encourages the vegetative growth that is important for the tree’s development. And finally, pruning allows more light to reach the fruiting branches which is critical for the peaches to ripen. Plus, without good light, shaded branches can eventually stop producing fruit altogether!
Here’s the thing….it’s not that I didn’t know that I needed to prune our tree… granted I didn’t know exactly how critical it was, but I knew it was important. I even had it on my to-do list. But somewhere along the way I got busy. Or distracted. Or whatever. And it just didn’t get done.
I’ve been thinking about this…about how important pruning is to peach trees…about how critical it is for bearing fruit. And it made me wonder if this same concept might apply to my life as well.
You see, from the outside, my peach tree looks awesome! It’s beautiful and green with a full canopy of leaves. But that’s not really goal is it? I mean it’s nice and all, but the whole reason to have a peach tree is so that it will bear fruit.
Thinking about my life this way – isn’t that sort of my purpose too? To bear fruit? And I’m wondering how often I let all of my ‘busy-ness’ get in the way of that. A life that looks beautiful and full from the outside, but without any real fruit to show for all the activity.
Without a doubt, pruning and thinning is one of my least favorite tasks – in my garden and in my life – but it’s also one of the most beneficial things a person can do. And so to that end, when it comes to my life, it is something that I am continually working on.
Selectively cutting back on projects. Saying ‘no’. Less screen time. This is what pruning looks like in my life lately. And granted my well-pruned life may not be as full and showy from the outside, but by tending to my life a little better, I am happier and more content than I have been in a really long time.
Like I said, I am a total work in progress in this aspect of my life – I imagine that this will always be a struggle for me. But it’s so worth it. It’s worth it for the strength and the growth and the light.
It’s worth it for the fruit.