The Grapes of Math 1.0
(The Compound Effect of Relationships)
A friend of mine and fellow gardener, in 2007, gave me a dozen or so
Sauvignon Blanc grape seeds as a gift. Gardeners are always sharing tips, seeds and even labor at times. He encouraged me to plant them and enjoy the bounty of the harvest, but cautioned me it could take several seasons to see grapes; be patient. What he really gave me was a decision that day:
If I wanted grapes I could drive to Sprouts Market and get them or from my local roadside stand or farmer's market and pay for them. If I wanted raisins those were easily purchased at my local grocer too. If I wanted wine, I had a number of stores to choose from to purchase or even drive an hour to wine country and buy straight from the local wineries. But, I wouldn't own the grape vine that produces the grapes year after year and I'd have to pay more for store bought (like buying leads vs. growing referral relationships).
Being both the avid gardener (and an avid Networker), I saw the opportunity in front of me and to correlation between the gardener and the Networker; the philosophies and principles are the same!
I did the research on soil prep, how much to water, necessary sun exposure, etc. I planted the seeds and for the remainder of 2007, I had a well taken care of pot of dirt. In fact visiting friends would tease "nice pot of dirt dude!" I just smiled and said “thanks”; knowing all the while the activity going on under soil that would only be obvious to the person who watered, fertilized, weeded and tended to the seeds on a daily basis. The roots were getting established.
I nurtured those seeds with care like a Mother and defended them from bugs, disease and weeds like a Father (to channel my hero Jim Rohn). Sure outsiders will offer unsolicited opinions, but won't they always? The future harvest was my goal, not the immediate approval of my house guests.
By the summer of 2009 I had a respectable 5-6 foot trunk growing up the trunk of a tree (I used it as a natural trellis) in my front yard and it was quite a site: spiraling vines and broad green leaves rising 6 feet in the air from that "uninspired pot of dirt." Now I was getting compliments on the vine but still getting the occasional jab "so where are the grapes?" “Are you going to start a winery?” and so on.
In spring of 2010, in what seemed like an overnight occurrence, or was it my busy real estate schedule that had distracted me? "Suddenly", I had a towering 10 foot high and a sprawling 15 foot wide network of vines running up our tree and over our pergola. Now my front yard resembled the approach to a very respectable winery in Italy...but alas, still no grapes.
Spring of this year, I was pleased to see former new growth turn to old growth and new growth explode in every direction to create an absolute canvas of grape leaves over our pergola from front gate to front door. Then, much to my amazed delight in June, "what's this?" stalks were forming. By the end of June I had over 50 bunches of grapes yielding 30-50 grapes per bunch. The photo's are taken in my front yard.
Now victory was here but, the real learning curve began; when to harvest? If I harvest in late May / early June when one would normally do so for wine production, the grapes are sour, because they are in fact Sauvignon Blanc wine grape seeds . But, if I wait until late June, they are tart like "sour balls" candy. Harvest them on a sun drenched day later in July and the explosion of sweetness in my mouth was like nothing you could buy in any store. Referrals are kinda subject to the same rules of 'the harvest” don't-cha think?
The possibilities of the Harvest:
I can enjoy grapes all Summer if I choose. Learn a little more and I could make raisins for my cereal or to add to my salads. Get a little adventurous and further educated and I could make grape-juice (which I did by the way) or wine. The options and possibilities were only limited to my imagination and gumption. But there were no options until I chose to plant the seeds and tend the garden and allow the process (or nature in this case) to take it's course.
The Grapes of Math are in fact a small investment up front (the seeds) and a big picture (the goals), consistent attention (weekly) and dedicated focus (on the big picture, despite the daily setbacks) and of course the proper amount of smart-hard work.