Just Peachy! You Can Grow Your Own Peach Tree And Enjoy Local, Tree-Ripened Fruit
Can you picture yourself reaching for a tree-ripened peach grown in your own yard? Follow a few guidelines, like finding the right peach tree variety and the right sight, and you'll be on your way to enjoying a local, tree-ripened peach in Vermont!
Vermont is at the northern end of the peach tree’s comfortable growing range, but we can successfully grow peaches here. You’re most likely to be successful if you live in warmer places in the state, like the Champlain Valley or the lower Connecticut River Valley.
Some folks who live up in the hills are able to grow peach trees under the right conditions. You can accomplish this by creating a little microclimate.
Whether you're a valley or hills dweller, you can create some ideal conditions for your new peach tree. To do this, choose to plant your tree near a south-facing building that can provide protection from north and west winds and plant the tree in well-drained soil with a lot of sun.
Of course, initially purchasing the right variety is also essential to fulfilling your peach-growing dreams.
Two varieties stand out when it comes to growing peaches in Vermont. One known as Reliance is from New Hampshire and is very hardy and tough. The Reliance peach tree flowers consistently, every year.
Another peach tree type, Contender, actually grows a better quality peach but it's not as tough of a tree as Reliance. To cover your bets, you can try planting one of each! Planting two varieties could also help with pollination.
Once you've chosen your peach tree from a nursery or garden center, take it home and cut it back by a half or a third of its height.
This trimming process stimulates the tree’s lower branches. Pruning it in this fashion also helps shape a tree that's going to be easier to maintain and to harvest.
Peach trees grow quickly so don’t let this initial heavy pruning worry you. By cutting and trimming the branches initially, you’ll be helping to create a tree shape in which the center is kind of hollowed out like a cup. This way, the tree will get more light and you will get better quality peaches.
After you have trimmed the branches, remove all the flowers. In your new peach tree’s first year, stimulating root growth is key, and doing this will help.
During this first year, you’ll also want to be aware of a couple of peach-related problems.
One is peach leaf curl, where the leaves curl up in the summertime. To avoid this issue, spray with a copper sulfate spray sometime in March or April before the leaves come out.
The other thing or things are borers. These are insects that do just as their name suggests: they bore into the tree’s trunk which can eventually kill the tree.
Some ways to combat boring insects are to spray kaolin clay on the trunk. This can help stop the borers from laying eggs there. Horticultural oil spray can also work.
Pick the right variety (or two), plant them in the right spot and keep your trees healthy. You'll be enjoying tree-ripened peaches soon!
Q: I have a row of six rhubarb plants. Every year I give each plant six-to-eight inches of composted manure but the plants simply seem to spread out, to a carpet of small pencil thick stalks. How do I get the stalks thick again? — Kimberly, in North Middlesex
The issue could be that the rhubarb isn’t getting enough sun. This may also be caused by too much composted manure. Next year, take a year off from composting and see if that makes a difference.
Q: I usually have beautiful poppies and blue false indigo forming a big bunch of stems ready to flower. Now, no poppies and the blue false indigo only has a few stems. Did I leave too much ‘chop and drop’ materials on the bed? — Susan, in Bennington
Poppies can be a plant - especially if grown in clay soil - that, even after a couple of years with no issues, just stops flowering. You might get another poppy plant or sew more seeds and try a different location in your yard.
The trouble with blue false indigo or baptisia, however, is more of a surprise. Blue false indigo is a really tough plant with a very deep tap root. This plant also grows well in clay soil or sandy soil, and winter conditions don't seem to affect it. Perhaps add a little compost to see if it will bounce back.
Next episode, we'll talk about beetles, so send in questions if you have them!
All Things Gardening is powered by you, the listener! Send your gardening questions and conundrums and Charlie may answer them in upcoming episodes. You can also leave a voicemail with your gardening question by calling VPR at (802) 655-9451.
Hear All Things Gardening during Weekend Edition Sunday with VPR host Mary Engisch, Sunday mornings at 9:35.
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