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Kill Peaches in Your Small Kitchen Garden

peach blossoms in my small kitchen garden

This photo appeared in an earlier post where I dubbed my peach tree the year’s overachiever. Blossoms covering every branch resulted in peaches covering the entire tree. The load is simply too much to ask of the slender peachwood branches, so I’ve culled, perhaps, 150 young fruits from the tree.

I’m encouraging people who grow peaches in their small kitchen gardens to kill peaches. It’s already late in the season to be doing this, but if you live in the north, killing peaches now could improve the quality of the coming harvest. Even if you don’t see much benefit this season, you’ll know better when it’s peach-killing time next spring.

Grow Large Peaches

Peach trees can be awesome producers. They are gorgeous in the spring when flowers cover every branch. However, when the petals fall, leaving six-to-ten peaches per branch, it’s a good idea to kill some of those peaches.

Left to mature, a peach-laden tree produces golf-ball-sized fruits. These are as delicious and nutritious as larger peaches, so if you like golf-ball-sized fruits, you can leave them alone.

However, the weight of all these small fruits can stress branches and cause them to break particularly during heavy rain or wind. So, you can protect the health of the tree by removing a whole bunch of peaches while the peaches are very small. Ideally, you do this within a week or so after petals fall.

A terrific bonus of reducing a tree’s peach load is that the peaches you leave behind grow much bigger than they would have had all the peaches remained. Leave only two-to-four peaches per branch, and they’ll likely grow to the size of racquet balls… or even tennis balls. To grow larger peaches, it’s important to do the culling early… the closer it gets to harvest before you cull, the less effect on size you efforts will produce.

Home Peach Growing Mistake

A commercial peach grower once told me: The biggest mistake home growers make is that they leave too many peaches on the tree. You have to be tough and break off all but three or four per branch.

It’s hard to do! When your tree is covered with grape-sized peaches, it’s easy to imagine a bounteous harvest. But I promise when that harvest arrives, you’ll be picking very small peaches. In years that I’ve failed to cull, I’ve used my tiny peaches to make jelly; they were simply too small to bother with in fruit salads and pies.

To provide encouragement for timid peach growers, I’ve made a video to show that I cull aggressively. I wish I’d gotten to it a few weeks ago, but even if I don’t get monster peaches this year, I’m confident the ripening fruits won’t overload and break the tree’s branches.


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One Response to “Kill Peaches in Your Small Kitchen Garden”

  • gail:

    Hi, I’m writing with an update on the seeds you sent me. Only two of the tomato plants survived to be planted in my mid-michigan garden, and they are still slow starters, perhaps one-20th the size of my other tomatoes and, of course, not flowering yet. I planted the long neck pumpkin seeds straight into the garden just a few weeks ago and they are thriving — I may have crowded them since I didn’t really expect them to take off like they did. I’ll pop in with another update when I approach harvest time!

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