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Response to Bertha Venation (Original post)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 07:16 PM

5. What a coincidence! Today is peach harvest day at Casa de Nikon

I'm no expert on growing peaches by any stretch of the imagination, but I've been doing it for the last 15 years or so. Here's a few tips I've learned which I wish someone would have told me when I first started.

1) Peach trees are fairly drought tolerant, but they really need a lot of water to produce well. Water frequently for the first year after planting and during the growing season every year thereafter.

2) Your tree will start to develop peaches next spring. Resist the urge to let them stay on the tree and cull all of them when they are marble sized. For the first year or two, your tree needs to focus on getting bigger and not making peaches.

3) For the 2nd spring, if your tree is say 6-8' tall and wide, it's probably big enough to go ahead and grow your first crop of peaches.

4) When your tree is ready to grow peaches, the first thing you need to do is spray for bugs. When the tree starts to bloom in the spring (they make lovely pink blooms), a small fly (I can't remember the name of the bug) will lay it's eggs on the developing buds. The eggs (larva) will develop inside the peach as it grows. As the fly matures, it will burrow out of the peach. It's not uncommon for these bugs to ruin an entire crop of peaches, so they must be controlled if you want to harvest your peaches. Right before the tree starts to bloom, when there are just buds on the tree, start spraying it with a horticultural oil. I use a concentrated horticultural oil and use a hose end sprayer for application. It takes just a few minutes to spray the whole tree this way. You want to coat the hell out of the whole tree. Keep spraying every few days for as long as the tree has blooms and just beyond. Horticultural oil is a very safe pesticide. It's made from mineral oil, which is safe enough to drink(I think there might be organic versions made out of vegetable oil, but not sure about that). It works by smothering the bugs and isn't harmful to humans. Personally I only spray my peaches once in the early spring. I do get a few bugs after the peaches start to ripen, but I also get a pretty good number of ladybugs and spiders which keep the bad bugs pretty well controlled. The birds will start to peck at some of the peaches and those are the ones the bugs go for anyway. I let the birds have the peaches that are up high, but you can put a net over them when they first start to turn red if you're losing too much of your crop to birds.

5) When the peaches get to be marble sized, you will need to cull about half to 2/3rds of them. This sounds like a lot, but if you don't do this you'll get really small peaches that tend to grow together. The peaches will tend to grow in clumps, so what you want to do is remove all the peaches from the clump except one. You also want a good amount of space between the peaches.

6) Water often during the growing season. One trick you can use is to take a 5 gal bucket and drill a small hole in the bottom. Fill the bucket up each day at leave it by the base of the tree. The more water your tree gets, the bigger the peaches will be.

7) You will want to prune the tree each winter. You want just a few sturdy branches instead of a lot of weak branches. As you can see from my first picture, the branches must support a lot of weight when the peaches get larger.

8) The peaches are ready to harvest when you can pull them off the branch with just a gentle twist and a tug. This usually happens about 2-3 weeks after they first start to turn red. The peaches will usually be hard when you first harvest them, but they will soften up in a few days and will be ready to eat or to make preserves with. If you pick them too early, they won't be sweet, even if they do manage to soften up.

This is the tree I harvested from today. The poor thing has its branches bent over, but they will come back after harvest. Both of my trees are about 10 years old, but they both were producing a decent crop by their 2nd or 3rd year. Abby the border collie is running circles around everything and everyone as usual.

This is my second peach tree. It produces peaches later in the season and will be ready to harvest in 6 weeks or so.

Here is just part of my harvest, from one tree.

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Arrow 9 replies Author Time Post
Bertha Venation Jun 2012 OP
OriginalGeek Jun 2012 #1
irisblue Jun 2012 #2
lunatica Jun 2012 #3
HopeHoops Jun 2012 #4
LineNew Reply What a coincidence! Today is peach harvest day at Casa de Nikon
Major Nikon Jun 2012 #5
Bertha Venation Jun 2012 #6
Major Nikon Jun 2012 #8
csziggy Jun 2012 #9
Honeycombe8 Jun 2012 #7
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