Peaches and their cousins, the nectarines, can be grown in all most all areas of the United States. They do best in warm pockets and, when trained into espaliers, can be fitted into just about any small space in the yard. Welcome to the wonderful world of peaches!
First things first. Peaches are fuzzy and Nectarines are their smooth-skinned cousins. They are very popular in the home garden seeing that they are self-fertile so only one tree is really needed to obtain the fruit. One mature tree will also be all that is needed for the average family to eat and put back for use the rest of the year.
Any good, well-drained soil is suitable for peach trees. Plant them deep and in amended soil with lots of compost mixed in. In winter, plants only need nitrogen added to the soil if you have well-fertile soil. Remember also to add compost to the whole area of the branch spread. After the first few years of feeding and mulching with compost, you will have less and less work to do as the years roll by. Water the soil liberally whenever there is danger that the soil might be dried out. Nectarines need more water than Peaches on the whole, but both plants need to stay away from being too dry for too long or the fruiting the next year will suffer. To ensure a good crop, most home gardeners will take a paintbrush and dabble it over the blooms when open. When the peaches are the size of marbles you will need to thin out the fruit to one to three per stem. Reduce all clusters to just one single fruit. If you do not, the fruit will never reach full size and will be stunted. When the peaches are the size of ping pong balls thin out again to ensure that the branches will not break under the weight. The fruit is ready to pick when the tops of the peach yields to gentle pressure with your finger.
Training The Tree
The first year you have your peach tree you will need to train the tree. This will help with shape and long life for years to come, so take the time and do these step right. In spring when the growth buds have appeared on the tree, cut the central leader to just about 2 feet above the ground, just above a bud. Remove all the lower shoots up to the top three or four shoots on the tree. This will feel like cruel punishment but this is a great way to get the tree you are looking for in the future. In years to come, just remove the crossing branches. Remove any shoots under the lowest branch and watch for any and all shoots from the roots and remove quickly. Any dying tips should also be removed and any branches that held too much fruit in the previous year and took damage need to be fully removed.
Peaches and Nectarines are among the easiest and simplest trees to grow in the home garden. They only need one tree to produce. They are mostly pest free when they are kept healthy, and they have many cultivars that can be grown with more and less chill hours. This classic tree is still among the best and should be placed in a spot of honor in all home gardens. The trees are stunning, the leaves are wonderful, the flowers are bright and cheery in the early spring, and the fruits are one of the best and most simple pleasures in life.
Thank you to blckwolf256 for the images.
About Mitch Fitzgerald
I am a pentecostal preacher, gardener,husband, and a father. I love natives, daylilies, iris, and roses. I love teaching others, be they children or adults, about the garden and plants.