Nothing says summer like a juicy, fresh peach, and growing your own is a satisfying hobby. Peach trees, though, require a bit of babying to produce large, juicy fruit. They don't tolerate soggy soil, shady conditions or late spring frosts. To ensure a productive harvest of large, juicy peaches, plant the right cultivar for your area. Contact a local extension office to select peach trees that are bud-hardy, especially if you live in an area with cold winters and late spring frosts. Otherwise, the cold weather will kill your peach crop before it even gets going.
Pruning and Thinning
Prune new peach trees back to 30 inches tall with pruning shears. Remove all side branches so you have only one upward-growing shoot.
Prune dead, diseased branches during the winter of the second and third years. Also prune low-hanging limbs and upright limbs growing on the inside of the lateral branches. Your goal in pruning is to open the inside of the canopy of the tree so it resembles a vase so more sunlight reaches ripening fruit.
Prune mature trees similarly, removing dead wood and vigorous upright limbs on the scaffold branches. Maintain the tree's open center.
Thin the peaches when they are the size of a quarter to increase peach size and quality. Remove peaches so the peaches are spaced 8 inches apart by twisting and snapping the peaches or snipping them with pruning shears.
Fertilize and Water Peach Trees
Apply 1/2 lb. of granular 10-10-10 fertilizer ten days after you plant the peach tree and again, forty days later. Apply the fertilizer by hand to the ground around the peach tree, avoiding the area 8 to 12 inches from the trunk.
Apply fertilizer in March and May during subsequent years. For trees under three years old, apply 3/4 lb. fertilizer each time. Apply 1 to 2 lbs. fertilizer to mature trees.
Remove all sod from the base of the tree and apply a wood chip mulch to prevent moisture loss and minimize weed growth.
Irrigate peach trees as needed to keep the soil evenly moist, but not soggy. Peach trees need 35 to 40 gallons of water daily during July and August, as they ripen. Providing adequate water will improve the size and quality of your peaches.
About this Author
Julie Christensen has been writing for five years. Her work has appeared in "The Friend" and "Western New York Parent" magazines. Her guide for teachers, "Helping Young Children Cope with Grief" will be published this spring. Christensen studied early childhood education at Ricks College and recently returned to school to complete a degree in communications/English.