Posts Tagged ‘peaches’
One of the joys of growing your own fruit is being able to bottle as much as you want or need to without it breaking the bank. Peaches in the store and at the Farmer’s Market here on Thursdays cost a small fortune. It’s one thing to buy some to eat but having enough to put up is a whole different ball game.
The Red Haven peaches are going to finish up by early next week and then the Hale Havens will begin to ripen. I’ve tried one that was almost ripe and it was sweeter than the Red Havens. When I’ve finished bottling peaches from the first tree it will be about time to get started on the second…and so on and so on. Six trees should take us through September and then it will be time for a well deserved vacation.
We do share a lot of our peaches, thankfully so many people really like peaches. I can’t imagine what we would do with all that fruit if we didn’t share.
We have six peach trees and all of them have peaches that ripen at different times. This way we have a long peach season and we aren’t pushed to do something with all those peaches all at once.
We have Red Haven, Hale Haven, Autumn Star, Elberta and Early Elberta. We also have a mystery peach that has been here for about 50 years, which is about 46 years longer than us. The Red Haven is the first to ripen and it is a teaser. The peaches turn beautiful, rich shades of red and peach long before the peach is ripe. Looking at the tree you would think it was ready to be picked. Not so. Those peaches may look ripe but they stay hard as rocks for quite a while. Then one day they begin to soften. Thankfully, they don’t all soften at the same time, just a few here and there. Soon though they will all be ready to pick.
We like to share them and of course we eat quite a lot too. We will be busy bottling peaches for the next six weeks or so.
It’s so fun to watch as the fruit on the trees begins to grow and the strawberries start turning pink. This year, besides the peaches, apples, apricots and assorted berries, we also have current bushes (with currents) and the Kiwi are finally blooming. This is their 4th summer and the first time we’ve actually seen blossoms. So we’re hoping to finally get Kiwi fruit. These are the hardy Kiwi and the fruit is smooth and small. It doesn’t need to be peeled and it is said to be very sweet. Can’t wait to try them.
Also, as the plant (a vine that can grow 40-50 feet) matures, the leaves begin to get pink and cream colorations on them, making it look like the vines are full of blooms. See this post from Cornell for more information: http://www.fruit.cornell.edu/mfruit/kiwifruit.html
We have a male and a female (yes, you need both) vine and they should cover one end of our grape arbor.
So looking forward to eating our very first Kiwi.
Even though it’s really hard to remove little baby fruit from fruit trees, it can be a very important step. Not only do you get much better fruit but the tree is better able to bear the fruit while it grows and ripens.
When our peach trees became laden with fruit we had to remove quiet a bit of it. Since this is just their third summer we were worried about such an abundant crop. We learned that removing the fruit is called ‘circumcising’ the tree. Well all 5 of our trees got circumcised. Apparently we weren’t thorough enough because just as the fruit on our Red Haven ripened the trunk of the tree split right down the middle all the way to the ground. I ran out with baskets and was going to pick the fruit and then take out the tree.
“Slow down”, my husband said, “let’s just think about this a minute.” So I stand there tapping my foot impatiently, knowing I’d have to do something with all those peaches right away. He headed for the garage saying we were going to pull the tree back up and strap it together.
Ha! I thought he was delusional. This was a young tree but it was already big, at least 12′. I tried to budge one side of it and I might as well have tried to lift our deck. But back he comes with pulleys and come-alongs and bungee cords and ropes and boards and a drill? Then he reaches down and smooth as can be he lifts one side up and braces it then pulls the other side up and braces it. He straps them together tightly and supports those heavy limbs. Then he gets out the drill and drills two holes through that poor tree. He used bolts and nuts and things and bolts the trunk together in two places. Poor tree had surgery with no anesthesia. I thought that by the next morning all the leaves would be wilting and the fruit would began to drop.
Except for the support straps still in the branches, you’d never know anything had happened to that tree. The fruit stayed on and ripened and was delicious. Now the tree will grow around those bolts and it’ll be impossible to tell what once happened. Isn’t that amazing?
The perfect garden, as we all know, was the Garden of Eden. In that garden were fruit trees. The fruit trees in our garden are a major part of the garden, adding beauty, shade and yes, fruit.
Since this is the perfect time of year to plant trees, shrubs and perennials, I thought I’d mention a little about planting fruit trees. I’ll be drawing on information I’ve gathered from my Master Gardening course, numerous online sites as well as my own experience. It’s all pretty basic but there are a few really important tips that might help insure success.
What Kind of Fruit to Grow?
Where you live determines what you’ll be able to grow. Different fruits have different requirements and so the zone you live in matters. A really good online zonal map can be found at:http://www.usna.usda.gov/Hardzone/ushzmap.html (Just click on the map to zoom in).
Most fruits (except citrus) require a certain number of hours of freezing temperatures to bear. So be sure and check to see what zones the fruit you want to grow will tolerate.
Where Will You Plant ?
As homeowners we are pretty limited on where we can plant trees in our yard. Even though we may not have many choices, this is still a very important factor in the success of the tree. The size and quality of the fruit and the longevity of the tree depend on it.
Fruit trees need sun, lots and lots of it. That means full sun for most of the day. The more shade they’re in the more spindly they’ll grow and the less they’ll produce. They will be more vulnerable to disease and pests as well. So if you really want to grow your own fruit (and who doesn’t?) and the only spot you can plant your tree is shaded by a larger tree, unless it is a prized specimen tree, you might consider removing the larger tree. We did. We had a very large tree that shaded the whole south side of our front garden. We had it removed and in this area we now have 4 apricot trees and 2 aprium trees (an apricot/plum mix seen in the photo below).
It may be hard to part with an old established tree but ask yourself, “Does it give me beautiful, fragrant blooms in the spring?”, “Does it give me food to enjoy and share?”. Also, fruiting trees can increase the value of your property.
If you live where winters are a little harsh, say zone 6 and lower, you have to think about air drainage. Didn’t know that air drained? Cold air flows down and seeks the lowest level so if possible plant on a slope so that the cold air can drain off. Also, if you have a choice, plant on a northeast slope and the tree will stay dormant longer and won’t bloom too early and then get hit with a freeze, which means no peaches or apricots that year. So, there are some things to consider when deciding where to plant.
Choosing Your Tree or Trees
You can buy from a local nursery or from one of the online nurseries. I’ve done both and have been very happy with both.
Fruit trees come either potted or bare root (which means they are field grown and then dug up and packed in moist material and wrapped tightly to prevent drying out). The potted trees look better when you buy them but in my experience, they don’t do nearly as well as the bare root trees. Sometimes the potted ones have been grown in the pot too long and has become root-bound and that means heavy root pruning before planting. When the roots have been pruned the top also needs to be pruned to create balance. The cropped roots wouldn’t be able to sustain the top growth.
Bigger isn’t always better, especially when it comes to fruit trees. The small-medium trees do so much better, have a better shape and began to bear fruit sooner. Ideally peaches, apricots, plums and cherries (pitted fruit) trees should be 2′ – 4′ with no branching. Any branches should be removed at planting. Pear and apple trees can be taller, 4′ – 6′, with no side branches.
Buying from reputable local or online nurseries is a good way to insure healthy stock and correct variety.
When You’re Ready to Plant
When you’re ready to plant your tree make sure the location you’ve selected has good water drainage to prevent the tree roots from becoming water logged, which will injure the tree in a short time.
Fruit tree roots tend to go deep so the top 26″ – 30″ of soil needs to be soil the roots can grow in, not hard pan clay for instance. Some time before planting you could dig out and amend the soil if you needed to. If roots can’t go deep they’ll remain shallow and be more vulnerable to severe cold and moisture and the tree won’t be as well anchored as it needs to be.
Most fruits prefer soil PH of 6.0-6.5. Again, soil can be amended, just do it a few weeks prior to planting.
Surprisingly, highly fertile soil does not make a good site for good production. Instead low-moderately fertile soil is better. If it’s too fertile you will get a lot of vegetative growth at the expense of fruit production.
If your planting a potted tree then remove it from the pot carefully and inspect the roots. If the roots are growing in a circle then either try to untangle them or prunes some of them off. If you prune off very many then you’ll need to prune the top back as well before planting.
If you are planting a bare-root tree then remove all the packing material and examine the roots. Trim off any dead, broken or excessively long roots. Place the tree in warm (not hot) water, as deeply as possible, for 12 to 18 hours to rehydrate the tree and give it a better start.
Dig the hole just before planting. Dig only as deep as the tree needs to set. If it is a potted tree then plant to the depth it was in the pot. If it is a bare-root tree then plant it so that the graft union is about 2″ above the ground. You can find the graft union by examining the color and texture of the bark along the lower trunk. Make the hole wide enough for the roots to be spread out and not crowded. Set the tree in the hole and begin to fill with dirt, working it among the roots and tamping it down and watering as you go. DO NOT add fertilizers or soil amendments at this time as the roots will stay confined to that small area and won’t branch out as they need to. Finish filling the hole, making sure the soil is firmly tamped down to eliminate air pockets. Water slowly but thoroughly. Mulch well to prevent drying out and for weed control. Mulching also protects against the cold. Pull the mulch away from the trunk about 6″.
Pruning the Newly Planted Tree
Most fruit trees need to be pruned at planting. Since peaches and apples differ in the way they are pruned I’ve listed some sites to help you understand that process better. In general, apple and pear trees are pruned similarly and pitted fruits like peaches, cherries, plums and apricots are pruned similarly. Check out these sites for more information on the pruning process:For peaches: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNytXvxWJIY For apples: http://www.weekendgardener.net/how-to/prune-apple-trees.htm General pruning guides: http://www.ftpf.org/pruningfactsheet.htm
Fertilizing the Tree
All fruit trees should be fertilized, beginning with the year they’re planted. The first year you should apply fertilizer about 3 weeks after planting, being careful not to get it too close to the trunk, which may cause burning. Remember though that you can over fertilize, causing too much vegetative production and reduce the amount and quality of the fruit.
This site provides some good information about fertilizinghttp://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/garden/07612.html
This is really just the bare facts of planting and growing fruiting trees but I hope it has been enough to get you started.
Below are pictures of some of our trees, all planted spring 2009, so they are 2 years old now.