Growing Peaches This Spring
Peaches picked at their peak are absolutely delicious. Here are some steps to planting, growing, and harvest peaches at the right time.
Growing peaches, it's important to choose a type that will fit with your climate. Peach trees can be grown in USDA Zones 4 to 9. Best zones are 6 to 8, to where peaches thrive. Living in one of these latter zones, you can focus on choosing a variety based on its flavor and harvest-time.
- Plant peach trees in the spring
- Plant large, vigorous 1 year-olds. Standard-size trees will bear fruits at 3 years of age, dwarfs at 1 to 2 years.
- Most varieties are self-fertile.
- Choose varieties that are right for your area and resistant to disease.
- A standard-size peach tree will stand 15 feet at maturity if kept pruned, 25 feet if left unpruned. Dwarf trees reach 6 feet in height.
- Plant standard-size trees 15 to 25 fee apart, dwarf trees 10 to 12 feet apart.
- Fertilize young trees with nitrogen in early spring and early summer. Fertilize older trees at a rate of 1 pound of actual nitrogen per year. Do not fertilize within 2 months of the average first fall frost date or wen fruits are maturing.
- Prune trees to an open center shape.
- Thin fruits to 6 to 8 inches apart 4 to 6 weeks after bloom.
- Prune trees, thin fruit, and pick fruit when ripe to increase resistance to fruit diseases.
- Pick peaches when fully ripe. There should be no green on the fruit, and fruit should come off the branch with a slight twist.
- Store peaches in a cool place.
If your circumstances are suitable, you might want to try a technique practiced in England. It involves planting a peach tree—ideally a dwarf variety—on the south side of the home (or other structure), directly under the eaves. Over time, the gardener prunes and trains the peach tree to espalier in a fan-shape against or very near to the wall of the house.
Plastic sheeting is attached to the eaves and draped to cover but not touch the tree, similar to a lean-to tent. This keeps the tree dry in winter, and the tree enjoys the warmth of the sun—directly and reflected off the house—year round. The plastic should be opened or lifted during bloom time to welcome pollinating insects, and on hot, sunny days to ventilate the tree and prevent foliage burn.