Vermont Garden Journal: Peaches

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I’m Charlie Nardozzi and this is the Vermont Garden Journal. Peaches are a special summer treat that have a long history. They have been grown in China since 2000BC. They made their way to Europe via the silk road and were called Persian apples. Early explorers of North and South America brought peaches to the New World, but it was the native Americans who spread them, planting peach pits as they traveled the countryside.

Although thought of as a southern crop, many Vermonters are trying their hand at growing peaches too. And why not? Nothing compares to eating a sun-warmed, tree ripened, juicy fresh peach. Peaches are borderline hardy in our climate, so you have to be clever about how you grow them. Select hardy varieties such as ‘Reliance’ and ‘Contender’. Plant peaches in full sun, on well-drained, fertile, loamy soil. If you have heavy clay soil, plant on raised mounds. Ideally plant trees on a east-facing slope. Peach flowers will bloom at the earliest hint of spring and often get killed by late winter frosts.  An east-facing slope will slow their opening. 

Peaches grow quickly. Prune the tree to an open vase shape allowing light to enter the center. Fertilize in spring with compost and an organic fertilizer. You should be getting 1 to 2 feet of new growth each year.

Peaches do have some problems. Peach leaf curl is a fungal disease that causes the leaves to be deformed. Spray copper sulfate in later winter and liquid seaweed extract monthly in spring and summer to thwart this disease. Peach tree borer can tunnel holes into the bark opening the tree up for infection. If you keep your trees healthy the borer tends not to be a problem. If you find holes, stick a metal wire in them to kill the tunneling larvae. 

For this week’s tip, try planting a late crop of bush beans now if you live a zone 5 area. They’ll grow fast and your should be eating fresh beans by late September.

Next week on the Vermont Garden Journal, I’ll be talking about tomato problems. For now, I’ll be seeing you in the garden!

Growing Peaches in the Home Landscape

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