John Packard has spent most of his life working in and enjoying the outdoors. During high school and after college he labored and lived on a 200 acre produce farm in Pennsylvania. In 1993 he moved permanently to Wisconsin, where he has gardened and landscaped ever since. As a partner in Mother Nature and Sons (1995-2002) he helped introduce natural garden design and organic maintenance to south-eastern Wisconsin. Since 2003 he has owned and operated Botanica Fine Gardens and Landscapes in Lake Geneva. Botanica emphasizes gardening in harmony with nature, land stewardship and horticultural best practice. John’s horticultural interests include: woodland and prairie restoration, vegetables, conifers, native plants, weed management, artisanal stonework, and enjoying the fruits of his labors with good friends, beer and music at the end of the day.

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Kill the Baby Peaches
by John Packard - posted 06/11/13

The reaping of 2013 will live in infamy for the piles of dead baby peaches.  Our first hive full of honeybees had been busy, their eyes agleam, pollen sacs bursting.  Bud be-burdened branches soon bent down low with fertilized flowers, an abundance of slowly forming fruit, destined to satiate no one, for there is no single exquisite peach without a thousand-fold moments of fecundity foiled.


Requiem for the Baby Peaches


UW-Extension Handout A3639: Growing Apricots, Cherries, Peaches, and Plums in Wisconsin notes “FRUIT THINNING: During years with favorable weather, stone fruit trees may produce or ‘set,’ large quantities of fruit.  This will result in many small fruit at harvest.  To avoid this situation, thin the crop by removing some of the immature fruit.  To improve the size of the remaining fruit, thin as early as possible after the fruit set and before they are dime-sized.  The fruit of peach, plum, and apricot trees should be spaced at least 6 to 8 inches apart on a branch.  Remove the smallest fruit and leave the larger ones. Large fruits early in the season will be large fruit at harvest.  Thinning will result in fewer fruits of higher quality.”


Kill the baby peaches.



Planted in 2008, this 'Reliance' Peach tree is,  "an unusually hardy peach that

withstands below zero temperatures and also has excellent bud hardiness.

High quality freestone fruits are medium in size

with yellow skin blushed with red, the flesh bright yellow, juicy, soft and sweet.

Vigorous, fast-growing trees are self-fruitful. Ripens late July"

--Jung Seed Catalog



Do I dare to kill a peach

so cute and fuzzy

pressed each to each?


With extreme prejudice

plucked and dropped

into a coffee can for contemplation.


Listen quietly to the echoes of their silent screams

a pile of thwarted promises

to yield 1 exquisite peach.


Kill the baby peaches.


Do I dare to kill a peach, so cute and fuzzy, pressed each to each?


Gardening courts death to consummate life.





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Christopher (Louisiana - Zone 8a) - 06/21/2013

Even when I know it's proper horticultural advise, I still hating thinning fruit (even thinning seedlings). I want to believe I can have it all and that rules can be bent in my garden. Still, I guess I should dare to kill my fruit. A nod to T.S. Eliot in your opening stanza, I presume?
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John Packard (Lake Geneva, WI.) - 06/22/2013

I was at Michael Fields Agricultural Institute in East Troy, WI. yesterday, and their orchard also had a tremendous fruit set. They hadn't fruit thinned yet, and the branches were beginning to strain under the load.

The rules of nature are inexorable. Bend them and something will break, like the branches of a Peach tree.
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