Tear Off The Suckers

Thursday, September 8, 2016 - 06:22
Tomato plants. Photo by Bruce Szalwinski on Flickr.

Ben Barkin is a smart cookie. Years ago, I had the pleasure of watching him plant the seed for what later became a very successful business (HomeHarvest - Edible Landscapes) that now employs a solid team of employees and contractors. If you're in the greater Boston area and want Ben and his crew to create a fantastic garden for your property, Ben is your man.

Not only does his company deliver a quality service, but Ben's passion for his craft is infectious. I'm not typically interested in learning the ins and outs of optimal farming procedures, but Ben will take you on a fascinating tour of an internship on an organic farm in Hawaii how he learned X, Y, and Z and how subtle change W can make a big impact on both crop yield and overall quality. He's a walking Wikipedia of farmcraft. And although I do not garden, a lot of what he shared with me has stuck.

One lesson has always stuck out above all the others because I've applied it to other areas of my life. One day, after Ben put in a long day at the farm down the street in Arlington, Massachusetts, he told me that he spent almost 4 hours doing nothing but pulling off the suckers off the tomato plants. Having previously worked at the Dufel's vegetable farm when I was 14 and 15, I had never heard of such a practice. But Ben explained simply that tomato plants are not always efficient and will sometimes grow extra leaves and branches that will never grow to the point of producing fruit. These runt leaves and branches will only divert resources away from the branches that produce, and by pulling them off you can redirect that energy to where it's most productive.

We all have suckers in our lives—distractions and all sorts of minor things that will never bear fruit. Within that simple conversation was a powerful lesson. Focus more energy on the things that matter, and tear off the things that are diverting energy.

Photo by Bruce Szalwinski (bruceandsusan). Used under the creative commons.

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About Rick Manelius

Quick Stats: CTO of Contact Mapping. Author of Winning the Lottery Within. Graduated from MIT in '03 (BS) and '09 (PhD). Life hacker and peak performance enthusiast. This blog is my experiment in creative writing, self-expression, and sharing what I've learned along my journey. For more information, read my full bio here or contact me.