Before and after. Kind of horrifying but you have to do it or you get a weak misshapen tree that won’t produce well. Cut off the top at planting, the videos from the growers said, down to three to four feet, max. Leave three to five branches for scaffolding. If there’s one that twists back on itself, cut it off. You want to create a vase shape over time so that sunlight can reach the inner center to make all the fruit sweet and you want a wider angle coming from the trunk than straight upright to make for stronger branches to bear their future load–watch those angles and choose the best, spaced around the tree. Trim.
Yeah, you see the wishful thinking in those red spacers? The first photo was taken Saturday. It took me awhile to work up the courage.
This morning I managed to make myself cut them down to six. Good thing the tree is still dormant, because I think I’m not quite done yet. There is just such a twirly twig, but it’s clear it was reaching in the direction the light was most dominant where it came from and since snapping this picture I’ve been able to mostly straighten it with another spacer–and it’s growing in the direction I want.
But it’s flimsy compared to the others. It has not yet convinced me it gets to stay. (Edited to add Wednesday morning, it’s gone now.)
I managed with great effort to cut the top off, as one is supposed to do, but the cut edge was sloppy, going down and then back up again like a check mark. It was misting out as a reminder that everything I’ve read or watched says take it at an angle so that water can’t collect on the healing cut.
Richard hadn’t left for work yet so he went out there for me and did a better job of it. But that is one good sturdy tree and it’s going to grow just fine, and in a place where it has space to spread nice and wide, unlike my smaller semi-dwarfs along the other fence.
This Indian Free peach is for my neighbor. The one with early dementia whom I had so many good long chats with last summer while there was an opening between our yards while her husband was gradually replacing the fence (I want to have that kind of energy when I’m his age) sawing the lumber on his back patio and putting the boards up a few at a time, day by day. She wished I had planted one of those peach trees near enough to grow over to their side when all this was done. And she would pick’em, too, if they did! she grinned mischievously.
And now I have. The best-tasting peach there is, according to the grower, one that does not get peach leaf curl disease, one that will thrive and grow and create bonds between neighbors long after she and I are both gone. It is planted close enough to spread a bit over the top there and yet far enough away that if some future neighbor halts it at the fence line it will do just fine with that, too.
She’ll never remember wishing for those peaches nor how many times she’d said those same words. But I do.
And so these last few months I kept coming back to the thought of her sitting beneath peach blossoms, inhaling the essence of spring and of love and finding a place to feel centered come what may. Of her picking ripe or even not-yet-ripe fruit as it makes her happy.
Of offering both her and her husband a place of peace.
And so I tracked down that variety and I drove over that mountain and with my husband cheering me on, I dug out as many old roots as I could and at last I planted her her peach.
Who knew, who could possibly have known, that it would feel so joyful. I mean. Wow.
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