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Posts Tagged ‘peach tree’

Pear Trees, Peach Trees, Apple Trees, & Rhubarb in Spring

The pear trees I planted in November of 2008 have brilliant color combinations in early spring. I might be happy if the tree always looked like this. Then again, I wouldn’t mind harvesting my first pears from them this season. The trees are still small, so I must be cautious: I’ll thin severely a week or two after the petals drop but I’ll watch for signs of stress. It may be prudent to give the trees one more season before burdening them with full-grown fruits.

My small kitchen garden has had a most miserable spring. Heck, because of all the rain, my small kitchen garden is a miserable spring! Water draining off the hill to the south has pooled in my planting bed making it impossible for me to do anything with it besides complain.

Fortunately, other parts of my yard drain more quickly than my planting bed does and for those areas, spring progresses. My fruit trees have already started to flower, and in a few days there will be blossoms on every branch. At the same time, my new rhubarb patch is doing well—that is, according to the residential rhubarb inspector who thoroughly examined the new growth despite inclement weather.

There’s not much you can do with fruit trees while they’re in bloom. This is the time to leave them alone so pollinators can work unhindered; I’m pretty sure I saw bees wearing SCUBA gear as they worked the peach flowers. Enjoy the colors and the aromas of your fruit tree blossoms, but don’t do maintenance until the petals drop. Then, it’s important to treat against pests or your produce could end up as bug food and insect baby incubators.

My old, extremely beat-up pear tree sports clusters of white blossoms. Considering the huge void in the tree’s trunk, it looks impressively hardy year-after-year. If half the flowers produce fruit, it will be a bountiful harvest.

 

The peach tree that came with our house fell over at least three years ago. The trunk suffered a “green twig fracture.” That is, it broke part way through, but a section of it held and bent like a hinge. That hinge of bent wood nourishes the entire tree, and the tree continues to produce fruit. There are plenty of blossoms on this challenged peach tree, so I’m hoping for a decent harvest to make jelly and pies.

 

The first apple blossom I could find among hundreds of ready-to-pop buds has some type of insect damage. I hope this doesn’t portend hard times to come. Stink bugs, I hear, can be hard on apples, and I live very near where the stink bug invasion began in the United States. I will be vigilant.

 

The residential rhubarb inspector examined my new rhubarb patch and seemed to approve. There’s soil, there are floppy leafy things, and there are stick-like stems. What’s not to like? I had to drag the rhubarb inspector away before she started chomping my plants.

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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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