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Monday, March 26, 2007

Really love your peaches, want to shake your tree

Ellie over on The Cedar Chest is winking at me.

I grew up in a small town, this was only a few years before it officially became a suburb. {Once upon a time, the city was far far away} This small town was known as the Peach Capital of the World. The orchards are now gone and tract housing in their place. The town, sorry, burb, has now become ugly and cold. I no longer drive through, because it is a painful sight to all my childhood memories.

I bring all this up, because my Peach tree has flowered. This is its third year, and when they typically begin to fruit. When selecting your young tree, it should be relatively straight and have buds. When ready to plant, cut the tree back to 18 inches above ground level. Watering should be done once a week, and you need to keep weeds cleared, the peach trees root systems are not very deep and can suffer from weed competition and drought. Sucker growth needs to be trimmed with a knife, if not done, the sucker will grow faster than the trunk and soon your peach tree will be wild.

Your third year you will want to fertilize well before the fall rains. Prune it back before February, in many cases you will have to cut it back by 50%. Do not allow all the fruit to stay on the limbs, you can get 50 peaches on one small branch, these need to be thinned out to 10 -12 inches apart, possibly only leaving you 3 fruits or so per branch. This will give you a better quality and tasting peaches. Thinning is also an important part to keeping the tree alive. Too many fruits can damage and possible kill your tree. The first thinning should take place when the peaches are about the size of a pea, then again when they are marble sized. You will want to go over the tree at least three times.

If the winter is too mild, your tree will not be able to go through its natural dormant period. This will cause flowers to bloom without leaves, a process called delayed foiliation, and it can be dangerous for your tree. Without leaves, the tree will be unable to care for its fruit, when this happens you will need to remove most of the fruit and the leaves should arrive in late spring. Your tree will have weakened and will hopefully rebound the next year. Try keeping the ground wet around the base of your tree to keep it in its dormant state longer. This is also a good way to prevent early blooming and frost damage.

Keep your tree trimmed so that it will grow wide and not tall. Also keep the area well fertilized, but without chicken manure. Too much nitrogen content. Cover crops can also aid in the health of your tree. Rye and vetch seem to be the best.

Keep could care of your peach tree and the tree will keep you supplied in its wonderful fruits for years to come.


Wendy said...

Hi there! Stopping by from Ellies blog! Just wondering what exactly homesteading is?!? I also read your profile and was floored at your music interests! My hubby listens to death metal! Not my cup of tea, but it is rare that I just randomly find someone who listens to his music:) Feel free to swing by my family blog!! I love new visitors! I have 2 little ones (6 and 9 months) and I also am 29!

Wendy said...

Hi again! I read more of your blog and side bar! Now, I have an understanding of what homesteading is! May I link you on my blog?

Anonymous said...

Welcome Wendy, Glad you know have a better understanding of what homesteading is. I did send you an email.

No need to ask about linking, if you want to, then by all means, link away!

Anonymous said...

Sucker growth needs to be trimmed with a knife, if not done, the sucker will grow faster than the trunk and soon your peach tree will be wild.

Would allowing peaches to go somewhat wild be a bad thing? I mean, could you still follow all the rest of the directions, about pruning, watering, shaping, fertalizing, and the rest, but let the peach trees sucker? Does it diminish the quality of fruit, or do they just end up too unruly? Would wild peaches behave in a similar way to wild lilacs, do you know?

Not that I have a peach climate. Guess I'll just have to be happy with the grapes - if my parents' dog would ever leave them alone, lol.

Anonymous said...

Merry, HI! Sometimes sucker shoots reduce yield or cause other problems in the main tree. They seldom ever produce desireable fruit. Best to get rid of them.

Anonymous said...

Good to know! Thanks, Phelan. Oh, by the way, I'm desperately searching for a Steve Miller Band torrent file - and it's all your fault! ;)

Marina said...

If y'all have time when you come down for Sombrea, we can take a quick drive over towards Fredericksburg, which is our "Peach Region."

So is it this coming weekend, or the week after?

Crunchy Chicken said...

Oh, now I miss my old peach tree again. It was espaliered against the old house and, from some (bad?) advice, cut it down.

Of course, at the time we had no idea how to take care of it and it always had peach leaf curl and the peaches weren't very good, so it seemed like a good idea.

It forever changed the appearance of the house. For the worse.

Well, I'll be thinking of you when those peaches are ripe! Do you can them or just eat them like crazy?

Teri said...

I've worked in a peach orchard, owned by a master orchardist. He really knew how to prune properly and had 20 year old trees that were productive. We had a volunteer back at a place we rented, not prime peach country. It would get leaf curl every year but still turned out the peaches. I'm at too high of an altitude (1700 ft) to grow them at my current home.

I live in the Columbia River Gorge, which is prime fruit country. Way too many apple and pear orchards have been pulled down to build tract homes for the "trendy" tourist who now visit here. A bit further east, they still grow the bulk of the sweet cherry crop in the US. Don't know how they will manage to compete with the prices they charge for cherries from Chile. I miss working in the orchards. It's a shame they don't protect farmlands.

annulla said...

Love the headline on this post. You are (for so many reasons) one clever girl.

Celeste said...

Thank you for this info! Hopefully I get peaches this year. The cold or wind always knocks me out of them!

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