A small self-fertile tree, peaches are a welcome addition to most gardens. Willowy leaves hold well into autumn, the blossom is wonderful and seeing peaches in bloom is immensely satisfying.
Peaches need an enriched, well aerated, fertile and well drained gravelly soil in a sheltered, sunny position. A south facing position is preferable to provide protection from damaging frosts. Prior to planting, incorporate plenty of well rotted manure or garden compost into the planting hole. They need copious quantities of compost annually and mulching is important to ensure the constant moisture they need. However they are most intolerant of any waterlogging. In spring protect the tree from leaf curl with Bordeaux. Protect the blossom from frost, weed, mulch and give a monthly spray of seaweed solution. Come summer, thin the fruits and in autumn remove any mummified fruit In winter, prune hard and spray again with Bordeaux.
Peaches can be grown in large pots as they can take heavy pruning if well watered and fed. An added advantage being they can be put under cover in winter and brought out after the frosts have gone. Both blossom and young fruitlets are susceptible to frost and if grown out a covering of fleece is good protection.
Pruning sounds more complicated than it is. Basically, in late winter the top ends of the higher branches are removed to encourage growth from the lower branches and stubs. This also serves to keep the tree a more manageable size.
If the tree is to be bush trained then drive a stake into the ground prior to planting. Staking after planting may result in damage to the root ball. For wall trained peaches attach support wires to the wall prior to planting. Plant fruit trees at their original soil level and firm them into the ground. Fasten the tree to the stake or support wires, and water well. When pruning on walls selected young shoots are allowed to spring from the main frame and then tied in to replace previous growth ONCE they have fruited.
Fortunately if pruning has been neglected healthy trees respond well to being cut back hard. Thinning is also very important as peaches are prone to overcropping, breaking branches and exhausting themselves. Hard I know, but thin the fruit hard, removing any that are touching or too near each other. Do this early and again later if necessary. Peaches will crop approximately two year after planting and yield will continue to improve each year. And finally, do not plant peaches and almonds near to each other as they might hybridise and resulting in bitter nuts.
Propagated onto ‘St. Julien’ rootstock, which is very productive with medium vigor, and makes peach trees less susceptible to frost damage. Peach ‘Peregrine’ is self-fertile and therefore does not require a pollination companion. Height and spread: 3m (9′)
Ideal For gardens, greenhouse, walls and fences, wildlife gardens
Flowering Period: March, April
Position: full sun
Value: rich in vitamin A, potassium and niacin.
History: Peaches were known at least 300 years BC to the Greek philosopher Theophrastus who thought it came from Persia, hence its name. It is likely that the Peach did not reach European shores until shortly before the Christian period. Dioscorides mentions it the first century and Pliny who states that the Romans had only recently imported the Peach from Persia.
In fact Peaches are of Chinese origin. Found in the books of Confucius and traced back to the tenth century BC in artistic representations. The slow spread to Europe might be the trees were planted incorrectly. They need a reasonable altitude to get their winter dormancy otherwise they fruit badly. Peaches reached England in the middle of the sixteenth century. We then took them to America where they flourished so well that Americans thought they were a native fruit!! By Darwin’s time they had spread to most of South America.