Growing Lessons from My Peach Tree

My backyard orchard, imagined and birthed during the pandemic, inspired by writing about gardening and money during a session of Writing in Community (an online community), is starting to bear fruit.

I hired someone to plant my orchard, figuring there were some steps involved that are beyond my capabilities. I thought he would bring a post-hole digger or some fancy instrument for placing the trees and bushes in the ground. No, he brought himself and a shovel, along with an eye for determining the spot of each based on available sunshine.

When he finished, he gave me an interesting piece of advice. He told me that my peach trees may bear fruit during their first year, but I should probably remove them before they fully ripen – because their weight might overcome the strength of the tiny tree.

The first year after their planting, I did have one tiny peach appear. I let it grow as it didn’t seem to weigh down whatever strength my tree had developed. I enjoyed its slivers and then waited for the next year’s crop.

This year, my peach trees are bearing loads of fruit. I will watch carefully to see if they weigh down the tree. Here’s a photo of the sweet fuzzy peaches:

The background is my neighbor’s fence, and you may be able to spot my forget-me-nots in light blue on the ground. They are perennials that attract pollinators.

There are a couple of things I want to point out. One is that, yes, you can grow orchards in an urban or suburban neighborhood (technically, my house is in the city, but I’d describe it as suburban). The second is the idea of being ready to handle the weight of fruit, or success and money.

This past week, I read of Boris Becker’s conviction of hiding assets from his creditors in a BBC News article. He wouldn’t be sent to the “poorhouse” for his debts. However, he was going to prison after being convicted of not telling the truth about his properties and wealth. Presumably, he wanted to keep just a bit of his money for himself instead of paying everyone he owed. Becker had been a teen prodigy in tennis, the youngest person to win a men's championship at Wimbledon.

Becker's situation made me think of how we may come into money earlier than later, and we may not be as prepared for wealth, so therefore we blow it. We overspend or trust the wrong people or make too risky investments, or a combination of these.

In contrast to Becker are the Williams’ sisters. There was a time in which I followed tennis and even went to Wimbledon during the summer when I lived with my sister in London. I haven't followed tennis much lately. I did catch the movie King Richard (the story of tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams).

What I found fascinating is how their dad, Richard, protected them from growing up too fast and wanted them to be well rounded, enough so they could learn to handle contracts and money.

Boris and Serena represent extremes in nurturing wealth. Like them, however, our capacity to make money and preserve wealth may be also be uneven at times. For the journey of growing wealth, I’ll suggest the three essentials (spend less than you earn, generate income or necessities without day to day work, and protect yourself) plus compassion for yourself as you learn how to do these in a way that uses your strengths.

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