Mouthwatering Peaches

    • Cabbage, broccoli, lettuce and other cool season vegetables can be started now from seed. There are many wonderful varieties available on seed racks.
    • Roses should be pruned if you haven’t done so already. Remove all old leaves on and around the bushes and spray with Neem oil to prevent early pest and disease problems.
    • Deciduous Clematis vines can be cut back to about waist height, to encourage bushiness, more flowers and a nicer looking vine. Do this now before the new growth starts.
    • Asparagus, horseradish and rhubarb are perennial vegetables that are planted now during the dormant season.
    • Last chance to spray peach and nectarine trees for peach leaf curl before the buds break open. Use copper spray for the best results.

Mouthwatering Peaches for your Orchard

Nothing compares to the taste of tree-ripe peaches. Like ripe tomatoes, you just can’t buy them in the market. Peaches originally came from China where they have been cultivated for over 3000 years? Today, in China, there are more than 1000 unique types of peaches!

We grow from 100-200 different cultivars of peaches in the United States. They can be divided into two types, the freestones and the clingstones. In freestone types, the flesh separates readily from the pit. In the clingstone type, the flesh clings tightly to the pit. Freestone types are usually preferred for eating fresh or for freezing, while clingstone types are used primarily for canning. Fruit may be either yellow or white-fleshed.

The main challenges to growing good peaches in our area are late spring frosts and a disease known as “peach leaf curl.” Selecting varieties that are both late-blooming and resistant to peach leaf curl will result in the best crops. ‘Frost,’ ‘Q-1-8’ and ‘Indian Free’ are excellent choices.

‘Frost’ is a delicious yellow freestone that bears heavily. ‘Elberta’ is an old-time favorite with classic, rich peach flavor. ‘Reliance,’ which is both cold-hardy and frost-hardy, has sweet, flavorful, yellow freestone flesh.

White-fleshed peaches have long been savored by home growers and connoisseurs for their sweet, luscious flavor, tantalizing fragrance and novel color. The flat ‘Donut’ peach, has caught the eye (and taste buds) of today’s white peach fancier. It is self-fruitful and produces a tremendous amount of fruit by the second or third year. These unusual fruits are flat and round, with a sunken center. The flesh is sweet and juicy, often described as having overtones of almond.

For some tastes, the unique red-and-white-fleshed peach ‘Indian Free’ is still unsurpassed among the white peaches. The intense aroma and sweet-tart flavor of a fully tree-ripened ‘Indian Free’ has to be experienced to be believed. It requires another peach or nectarine as a pollinator.

‘Q-1-8’ is a sweet and juicy white peach with a sprightly flavor from a peach-leaf-curl resistant tree and ‘Sugar May’ is also white and is very juicy with fine sweet flavor.

Standard trees grow 15 to 25 feet tall if unpruned, but can be kept to 10 to 12 feet with consistent pruning, especially summer pruning. The best standard rootstock for our area is Lovell, which has a vigorous root system that is tolerant of wet soil or heavy soil.

Peach trees require full sunlight. If possible, select a site with a raised elevation or on a slope, so that cold air can drain away from the tree on a cold night during bloom. Trees need well drained soil. Mounding can help if you have heavy soil.

A young tree will need only 5-10 gallons of water a week. Mulch around the tree and you should be able to meet its water needs with grey water from the house.

Peaches seldom a crop every year in our climate, but when they do a single tree can produce 200 pounds of luscious, juicy fruit. Let them ripen to peak perfection before picking them and enjoy their exquisite, mouthwatering flavors.

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