A professor at the university had given me a cutting from his well established guava tree in exchange for my scrawny dwarf orange that was long overdue to be planted into the ground. It had produced only a single orange for two years in a row despite a plethora of fragrant blossoms. Clearly to bear more than a singular fruit this budding citrus needed to be set free from it’s container. It was time to transplant it into a sunny plot of earth if it was ever to put down roots and properly mature. It was long past time.
The exchange of orange tree for guava cutting was happily made. I had the comforting assurance that my little dwarf orange was going to a good home and would have a bright future in the capable hands of its new agriculturally minded owner. And I had high hopes for the fledgling guava plant as well. Having previously tasted the fruits of this professor’s labor in the form of a perfect guava pie he himself had baked I dreamily envisioned little glass jars of delicious guava preserves and the dainty guava tarts that I would share with others one day in the future. As the juvenile cutting took root and matured it would surely do well in that empty garden corner currently occupied by the wildly overgrown asparagus fern.
Problem is I gave little thought to the process needed to bring dear Baby Guava from infancy into a full blown fruit laden specimen. Sunshine and adequate watering should do the trick, I thought to myself. After transplanting out of its repurposed yogurt container and into a planter of decent size, my new acquisition began to grow, forming larger leaves while its delicate stems became sturdy. I was ecstatic!
And then one fine day a pestilence struck. The tender new growth proved to be quite a scrumptious snack to an unidentified parasitic organism with a serious case of the munchies. There weren’t supposed to be microscopic invaders preying on my young guava!
“Pick up some neem oil,” my professor friend suggested, and so I did. Yay for me. Unfortunately the treatment remained on a shelf in the garage in its shamefully unused condition. I confess that I did nothing more than purchase the prescribed remedy for no particular reason other than perhaps a fading interest. Instead of applying the proven cure I hosed off the tiny pests once or twice; plucked off a few affected leaves. Minimal effort at best. But I never actually did what the professor had advised.
The guava plant continued to grow but did not thrive. The new upper growth continued to serve as an all-you-can-eat buffet. The experience confirmed an awful truth—I’m an undisciplined gardener who was in it for the fruit but not for the pests that came along the way.
Human nature is such that we may readily envision the end result—the benefit we may personally gain—while giving much less attention to the process needed to get us there and what cost and level of commitment will be required.
As for me, I imagined the fruit (and beyond) without employing the consistent actions needed to ensure a proper harvest. I anticipated enjoying the fruits of my labor while neglecting the actual “labor” bit. Little Baby Guava entered my life as an eight inch cutting loaded with potential. All I’ve harvested so far is an important lesson about follow-through when a very specific result is expected. My putting the focus on the end results without taking prerequisite measures was a set-up for a disappointment.
Moral of my story? Don’t count your guava tarts before they hatch without consistently taking the appropriate measures. Listen to the wise who have successfully conquered the pestilence that comes with the territory. Continue to take the steps of due diligence and over time my more rooted and fruit-bearing self just might be positioned to ask, “Would you care for a guava tart?”