How to grow Peaches

Fresh juicy peaches are easy to grow in southern climates, but can also be grown through much of the continent. The biggest challenge in northern climates is that although the tree is quite hardy, the fruit can easily be killed by late frosts. For the best results it is a good idea to keep a sharp eye on the weather forecast, and have some protection on hand if needed.

Location: Peaches need full sun and can take even the hot afternoon sun in the south. Further north you can increase the best chance of fruit by giving the tree some protection. A southern facing wall or southern slope is a perfect location. On slopes, a late frost tends to roll down the slope and causes more problems at the base of the slope than further up so locate hardier apples or late blooming pears on lower slopes and keep the peaches further up.

Planting: Trees can be either bare root or in a container. If the tree is bare root it is a good idea to soak the roots for a few hours, or even overnight so that the roots are not dried out when you plant them. Dig a hole in a suitable location and make sure that the hole is deep enough to accept the roots comfortably. Aim to keep the junction of the root stock and main stem just above the surface. For trees in containers, plant at the same level as the soil in a container. Amend the surrounding soil with compost and fertilizer before refilling the hole. Make sure the soil is tucked under the bare roots, and when the hole is half full, water it gently to settle the soil. Continue to fill the hole until it is level with the surrounding area, water again and put a layer of mulch on top to retain the moisture.

Pruning: Fruit trees, particularly peaches, survive very well if you do not prune them, but as the tree gets bigger you will find that good pruning makes a tidier tree that produces easier to pick fruit. In general peaches are encouraged to grow outward rather than upward so prune the header off (that is the strong upright trunk of the tree) near to a bud. The little buds will start to grow outwards and form a better shaped tree. Take of all the peaches that start to grow that first year so that the tree can become concentrate on growing rather than on producing fruit.

In just a few years your peach tree will be producing a good crop for both desserts and preserving.

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