by Fred Roundstone
(Angmering, West Sussex, UK)
Peaches make delicious pies and Peach Melba ice cream and are great in mixed fruit salads. Growing your own seasonal peach fruit tree in your own backyard is one great way to have your own supply of this juicy summer fruit.
For thousands of years, orchard growers and enthusiasts have beenbreeding several types of peaches for different climates, different tastes, and even for different colors. Check with your local nurseries for the right type.
Check, too, if your tree type needs another tree for pollination. The ideal sapling would be a 1-year old and around 3 feet tall.
Your peach tree wants a 6.5 ph level, but most soils tend to be more acidic. Sweeten it up with lime. Work it into the ground for a couple of feet deep within a 10 foot by 10 foot area.
You can add manure, peat moss or compost up to a year before planting. Work these organic materials the same time you work the lime into the soil. The best soil is sandy loam that drains well.
Aside from the soil’s quality, the site should be full of sun and good air circulation to ensure bountiful fruits. A full sun produces sweeter tasting peaches. A good air circulation keeps out cold areas around the tree that causes freezing of immature fruits.
The best planting time for peach saplings is winter and early spring when it is completely dormant. Dig a hole 3 feet wide and 2 feet deep. Check out the plantlet for root damage or disease and remove them.
Have the plantlet stand upright and spread out the roots. Fill the hole and tap it down enough to remove air pockets. Finally, water the plant thoroughly. There is no need to add fertilizer at this time.
Peach trees normally need plant food two times a year. In early spring when the buds begin to show, feed it with a cup of 10-10-10 water soluble fertilizer. After the last harvest, it needs another cup of the same plant food.
A healthy peach tree produces enough fruits that can break its own branches by their sheer weight. “Thin” out the branch, ideally with only one fruit for every 6 inches of branch length. Hold the branch in one hand and pluck the unwanted fruit with your other hand. Be careful not to tear the tree’s skin to discourage diseases.
Prune your trees during early spring all the way to growing season. This is after extremely cold weather had passed, just immediately before the foliage emerges.
Remove dead, damaged or diseased branches. Remove watersprouts (vertical growing branches). Try to angle the branches to have plenty of room. Old branches can be removed after 3 years because they produce less fruit.
Sunny locations with good air circulation discourage pests. Apply a dormant spray in the winter and follow up with insecticide-fungicide combination throughout the growing season.
Look for signs of attack from peach tree borers. These are wet spots on the bark of the trees.
Each of the many varieties of peaches has their own specific harvest time (usually lasting about 10 days.) The harvest is usually done by hand. Afterwards, these mature peaches are ready to ripen off the tree.
Click here to read more about DIY tree planting