Outdoors, peaches are
grown as fan-trained trees against a wall; in
pots on a terrace or veranda; or as bush trees,
like apples, when they will come into fruit two
years after planting. Plant in November, allowing
just over 5m (18ft) for fan trees and just under
2m (6ft) for bushes. They require a soil containing
plenty of lime and a slow-acting nitrogenous fertiliser
such as shoddy or bone meal. Peaches are budded
on to Common plum stock, and when planting, make
sure that the union is above soil level. Tread
in the roots firmly and water well if the soil
is dry. Each year, in May, give a liberal mulch
of strawy manure to conserve moisture.
At the beginning, give bush trees the same treatment
as in the renewal system for apples, i.e. shoots
that have borne fruit are grown on until they
are 45cm (18in) long. Do the same for fan trees.
Fasten them to the wall and pinch the tips back
to a wood bud. This will produce the wood that
will bear next year’s crop. The wood buds
are small and pointed, the blossom buds round
Pruning of established trees consists of, in May,
cutting back the leaders to about one-third and,
in early June, pinching back the side shoots to
about 5cm (2in), to a single wood bud at the base.
This is grown on as replacement for next season’s
crop. These shoots that have fruited are removed
at the end of summer. This continuous formation
of replacement shoots on which the crop is carried
will keep the trees free from old wood, which
often causes ‘gumming’ when removed.
It should be said that with fan trees, the horizontal
shoots are often less vigorous than the more vertical
shoots. To correct this, bend downwards any too
strong growing vertical shoots and fasten in,
and train any weak horizontal shoots in an upward
direction. This will serve to correct the balance
of the tree.
Any shoots appearing next to a fruit should be
pinched out from their second leaf. This is done
in June and the pinching back is done over the
full month. This directs the energies of the tree
to the swelling of the fruits without checking
Roots pruning will also help to restrict growth
and encourage fruiting. It is done about five
years after planting and every three of four years
hence. Remove soil to a depth of about 37cm (15in)
and 90cm (3ft) around the stem, and cut away the
larger roots to about half way. Then replace the
soil and tread firmly.
Peaches are self-fertile and need no pollinator,
but a heavier set of fruit will be obtained if
the open flowers when dry are pollinated with
a camel-hair brush, especially those under glass.
Do not thin the fruit until after ‘stoning’.
This is the natural falling of fruit when about
the size of fully grown cherries. There should
be about 12cm (5in) between the fruits left to
The fruits ripen from the end of July until early
October, depending on variety. To determine the
ripeness, place a hand beneath a fruit and lift
gently upwards; it should come away easily with
its stalk. Or gently press the base of a fruit;
if ripe, it will be slightly soft. Place the fruits
in shallow trays lined with cotton wool.