Neophytes think gardening is living with nature.
Nope. Gardening is defying nature.
With that understanding, one sees a peach as a work of science. An entire bag or bushel or grocery store bin of peaches is a miracle.
We planted our peach trees a few years ago. Two years later, my daughter, then 5, discovered the one and only peach on one of the trees.
“A peach! A peach!” she sang as she marched around the tree, arms pumping. “We got a peach!”
We watched that peach grow every day. As it neared ripeness, we counted down the days until we could pick and eat it, split in two to share.
The morning we figured the time was right, we went out to get it.
It was gone. It was a sore disappointment for a kindergartner as well as her gardener-mother.
The next year, we had a smattering of peaches. The morning I went to hang out the mesh to protect them from deer was the morning too late. They were all gone.
The year after that, once a bountiful crop had gotten about half size, they all shriveled up and died.
I figured they had dried out, so the next year I watered the tree deeply each week. When the shriveling still happened, I did my homework and realized they had brown rot, which some protective methods could guard against.
That brings us to this year, when I dutifully sprayed dormant spray on the fruit trees a few times in winter. It was quite a chore getting all the limbs from being high on a ladder.
This time, finally, we were rewarded with a tree absolutely laden with fruit.
This would be our year.
Then — just as I had read about years ago but had not taken seriously enough — a limb broke off.
A week later, nearly every limb had broken off because of the weight of the fruit.
Then deer came in and ate the remaining, low-hanging peaches. There still were just a few peaches up high that were nearly ripe.
One night as I drove in, the dog was barking at the peach tree. My heart sunk, anticipating another stray kitten, which was what I discovered last month when she was barking the same.
It was with so much relief that I saw it was a mother raccoon and three cute babies that it was a while before it sunk in: No peaches for us this year, either.
How did all the generations before us, who had to survive on what they grew or hunted, survive?
Holly Kozelsky is a writer for the Martinsville Bulletin; contact her at 276-638-8801 ext. 243.