Last week I did one of the toughest things I have to do all year. I pulled perfectly good fruit from most of my nine fruit trees and threw it out.
The tiny fruits, which are about 1/4 to 1/3 their final size, held the promise of future goodness. Even though they were still small, hard and sour, my mouth watered as I handled each one.
So, why would I do such a hard-hearted, mean-spirited and cruel thing?
The problem with a healthy fruit tree is that it sets too much fruit. By thinning the young fruit, I allow more of the tree’s limited energy to flow into the fruit that remains. Viola! Giant fruit that is easier to peel, has a smaller percentage of waste and (most important) is more fun to eat!
Most everything important about trees (and about life) I learned from my Dad (store founder, Jay Lehman)
Dad always told me there are two simple rules for pruning and for thinning. 1) Cut until it hurts. 2) Cut some more! The idea here, is that we never tend to cut enough. If we follow both rules we are guaranteed large healthy fruit.
More precisely, large fruit like peach, apples and pears should never be allowed to be closer than about 6 to 8 inches apart. This is about the distance your thumb and your pinkie.
The problem is that I am never quite able to completely carry out these instructions. I don’t thin consistently. And, I don’t quite have the heart to keep thinning after it starts hurting!
The result is that I always end up with some fruit that is too small. Both peaches in the picture were picked last year at the same time and from the same tree. The peach on the left came from a branch that had been properly thinned. The peach on the right was about 4″ inches from another peach. I just didn’t have the heart to pull it or the one next to it.
Every year at harvest I kick myself for not thinning enough. This spring, I think I did a more consistent job of thinning. I’ll let you know how it turns out this fall!
There’s a good example for life here. I’ve heard that the most accomplished people focus on improving the areas in which they are already gifted. And, people who never seem to get ahead spend their time trying to change the things they are bad at.
Looking back over my life, I can see that when I’ve been successful, it’s come out of developing my good traits. Along the way, I’ve had to admit (and often apologize for) my many failings. It’s a humbling experience to look someone in the eye and admit you’re no good at something. Usually, their reaction, no matter how polite, usually confirms that you are right. But, it’s also an uplifting experience to have people congratulate you on an accomplishment that came out of what you know is one of your gifts.
Embrace your good! Like a healthy fruit tree, let your limited energy flow into those things. Thin out and discard the competing fruit by simply admitting that you not perfect. You’ll have more fun in life and be more fruitful!
The time to harvest will be here before you know it! Now is the time to check your supplies. Our picking basket will save your back and reduce fruit damage! We can pare the peeling chores down to size! Do you have enough canning supplies? Are you ready for apple and tomato sauce? We’re ready to help you make this a successful harvest!