Peach and Nectarine

The peach prunus persica, belongs to the rosaceae family, which includes; Almonds, Apricots, Nectarines, and Cherries.

The added beauty to this group is not only can you eat the fruit, but in spring their flowers can be quite spectacular, add to this striking foliage and bark colours and you have a good all round plant for any garden.

In recent years there has been a great deal of work done on the root stock of many varieties to promote dwarfing thus making them suitable subjects for the smaller garden and even containers.

There are many peach cultivars and are collectively referred to as stone fruits.

They fall into three major groups;

The most common is the Nectarine which due to a single recessive gene is simply fuzz-less peach.

Freestone peaches are the ones generally found on the market stall.

Clingstone peaches are used primarily for canning.

Peaches do not get any sweeter once they have been picked.

They do however get softer and juicier!

This is why one should avoid rock hard peaches, as these were most likely picked when they were still green.

Watering:

It is better to apply occasional water copiously, rather than frequent light applications.

Mulching in early spring conditions the soil and encourages it to retain moisture.

Pests and diseases:

Peach trees can be attacked by aphids, earwigs,red spider mites, and birds.

Among the diseases that can affect peaches are, botrytis, bacterial canker and peach leaf curl.

Pot grown trees are less likely to suffer from these problems.

Indoor culture:

Week 6: To produce a balanced tree shape in pot grown specimens, cut back laterals to buds pointing in the required direction.

Week 8: Remove the top 50mm (2”) of compost of pot grown specimens, and replace it with potting compost that is equivalent of John Innes No.3. and commence watering trees under glass.

Week 10: Prune leading growths by about one-third to a good bud, and thin out crowded or crossing growth at the same time.

Week 20: Apply a weak liquid potash feed monthly from now until fruit is ready.

Week 22: Pollination is essential for good crops.

Plants will need to be pollinated artificially.

Throughout the flowering period, pollinate with a soft paint brush or rabbit's tail around mid day.

Damping the floor of the greenhouse afterwards and closing the door for a short tune to raise the temperature will assist the set.

Week 25: Thin fruits to around 200mm (8”) apart, when they are 20mm (3/4”) in diameter.

Tie back or cut out any shoots that shade the fruits.

Week 32: Pick the fruits when the flesh starts to soften slightly round the stalk and store in a cool place until required.

Outdoor culture:

Week 18: Prune leading growths by about one-third and cut back any frost damaged tips to a good bud, and thin out crowded or crossing growth at the same time.

Reduce the chances of peach leaf curl on peaches and nectarines by keeping the rain off them.

The problem can be reduced, by covering them with purpose made screens, or by draping loose plastic sheeting over the plants.

Week 20: Avoid disturbing the roots of peaches and nectarines, but keep the soil around the trees clear of weeds by shallow hoeing or by treating the area with a contact herbicide.

Rub out unwanted shoots in early summer.

Mulch with rotted manure or compost and apply dried blood at 15gms (½oz) per sq.m.

Week 24: Inspect the ground around wall-trained trees for signs of drying out and water as necessary.

Week 26: Apply a weak liquid potash mix at monthly intevals when watering trees under glass.

Week 27: Thin fruits to around 200mm (8”) apart, when they are 20mm (¾”) in diameter.

Tie back or cut out any shoots that shade the fruits.

Week 33: Propagate peaches by setting the stones singly in potting compost (equivalent of John Innes No1) and place in a cold frame or cold greenhouse.

Maintaining a night temperature of 10°C (50° F) will hasten germination.

Re-pot as necessary and treat as a maiden tree after it has made one season's growth.

Week 35: Pick the fruits when the flesh starts to soften slightly round the stalk and store in a cool place until required.

Week 36> Lightly prune the stems that carried fruit.

Week 42: Plant out new trees.

Peaches and nectarines grow best in loamy soil, with good drainage.

When planting against a wall, set the stem 200mm (8”) out from the base of the wall, slightly incline the plant towards the wall.

Space out wall-trained trees on a series of horizontal wires set 300mm (12”) apart, and at least 1.8-2.4m (6ft-8ft) high.

Erect temporary windbreaks made with small-mesh netting

As well as reducing the force of the wind, this will encourage pollinating insects.

An alternative to the above is to plant in a lean to greenhouse this will offer better protection from the weather and birds.





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