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Peaches

UK Garden Centre - Information about Peaches

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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.

Pruning

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 and fat.
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 plant growth.
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 mature.
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.


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