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Growing Peaches Naturally

 
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I wanted to make this thread to help me keep track of and document my peach trees.

Hopefully it can be helpful to others also!
 
Steve Thorn
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My Hale Haven peach is starting to bloom!

I love peach blossoms!
First-peach-blossoms-of-the-year-.jpg
First peach blossoms of the year!
First peach blossoms of the year!
 
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Hi Steve, i've got no idea what peach trees i have, the previous owner put them there, but they are delish and abundant.
Last year was ridiculous, had to remove loads of small fruit, i kept like a third of the fruit and still it looked like in the picture.
I had to support it with sticks, because branches where snapping.
Just in from pruning them now, just before they flower.
peaches.jpg
[Thumbnail for peaches.jpg]
 
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As I type I can see the peach blossom starting to show pink in the bud in my back garden.  But the tree always gets peach leaf curl and I have never had fruit.
 
Steve Thorn
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Hugo Morvan wrote:Hi Steve, i've got no idea what peach trees i have, the previous owner put them there, but they are delish and abundant.
Last year was ridiculous, had to remove loads of small fruit, i kept like a third of the fruit and still it looked like in the picture.
I had to support it with sticks, because branches where snapping.
Just in from pruning them now, just before they flower.



That's awesome Hugo! Great picture too!

The plum curculio have done a lot of thinning for me, so I haven't had to do any yet.

Thanks for sharing, really enjoyed it!

 
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Hester Winterbourne wrote:As I type I can see the peach blossom starting to show pink in the bud in my back garden.



Neat!


But the tree always gets peach leaf curl and I have never had fruit.



That's so sad! Mine has been plagued with plum curculio before, and I know it's so disappointing to lose potential fruit.

I'd be interested to see some photos if you wanted to post them here later in the year. Maybe someone else could offer a helpful tip so you can see the fruit (pun intended) of your labor.

Anyone know any good ways to discourage plum curculio?
 
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Anyone know any good ways to discourage plum curculio?



I was able to limit their destruction by gently 'knocking' the tree daily from just before fruit set and a little beyond.

The method I was told was to lay a sheet or some sort of ground cloth down and then knock (rather than shake) the tree....then gather up those critters and squish them.  In the end I did not always lay down a cloth so did not find them but I think this was almost as effective.  They climb the trunk to lay eggs in the newly set fruit, so it must have slowed them down enough.

We have always grown everything organically...peaches and squash have been the biggest challenges.  I only grow squash every few years now but keep planting more of my blood peach variety from seed.  The oldest here at our new place bloomed last year and bore some fruit.  You've reminded me that I should spend some time tending those trees.  The peach tree borer is also a problem  here and If I keep a large amount of wood ash at the base of the tree I can prevent them....otherwise it's cleaning out the tunnels to kill the borer and if not the borer damage will kill the tree over a few years.   That large amount of ash does not seem to bother the tree at all.

In my most industrious period, and when the peaches bore the best, I also carefully scraped the bark over the winter.  This helps in inspecting the tree overall and cleans up any other bug eggs that might be lurking.  I used a dull edged metal scraper and used it gently...don't want to damage the bark.

Here is a bit (about knocking for curculio) from this site https://learningstore.uwex.edu/Assets/pdfs/A4160.pdf that explains in depth the curculio's life cycle, etc.

. To perform this technique, a white sheet is placed under the tree and each branch is tapped with a stick. If done around petal fall when the adult beetles are active, this will dislodge them, causing them to fall onto the sheet. Early in the morning is the best time of day to beat branches because temperatures are cooler and the beetles are more likely to fall off rather than fly away. This works best for small trees where it is possible to hit each branch. Beetles that fall off the tree should then be killed. This practice would need to be repeated almost every day for about 4 weeks beginning at bloom to have any level of control.

 
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Hester Winterbourne wrote:As I type I can see the peach blossom starting to show pink in the bud in my back garden.  But the tree always gets peach leaf curl and I have never had fruit.



If you can, build a widely diverse compost heap for the purpose of being able to make compost tea from.
Use about a kilo of compost per 90 liters of water and either stir into a vortex or use an air pump with bubble stone to get air into the tea as you brew it. (brew for at lest 24 hours but no more than 72 hours)
Let the solids settle and fill a sprayer with the liquid then spray your trees with the tea, if you can do this once a month for a full growing season you should be able to prevent the leaf curl from happening.
If you want to not have to wait for solids to settle, use some old T-shirt material to make a "tea bag" to hold the compost, once you have made and used your tea, the "left overs" can be used on the soil around the trees.

I have found that the wood ash brought up by Judith works several ways for peach and pear trees, all are good for the trees and bad for the bugs.

Redhawk
 
Steve Thorn
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Judith Browning wrote:

Anyone know any good ways to discourage plum curculio?



I was able to limit their destruction by gently 'knocking' the tree daily from just before fruit set and a little beyond.

The method I was told was to lay a sheet or some sort of ground cloth down and then knock (rather than shake) the tree....then gather up those critters and squish them.  In the end I did not always lay down a cloth so did not find them but I think this was almost as effective.  They climb the trunk to lay eggs in the newly set fruit, so it must have slowed them down enough.

We have always grown everything organically...peaches and squash have been the biggest challenges.  I only grow squash every few years now but keep planting more of my blood peach variety from seed.  The oldest here at our new place bloomed last year and bore some fruit.  You've reminded me that I should spend some time tending those trees.  The peach tree borer is also a problem  here and If I keep a large amount of wood ash at the base of the tree I can prevent them....otherwise it's cleaning out the tunnels to kill the borer and if not the borer damage will kill the tree over a few years.   That large amount of ash does not seem to bother the tree at all.

In my most industrious period, and when the peaches bore the best, I also carefully scraped the bark over the winter.  This helps in inspecting the tree overall and cleans up any other bug eggs that might be lurking.  I used a dull edged metal scraper and used it gently...don't want to damage the bark.

Here is a bit (about knocking for curculio) from this site https://learningstore.uwex.edu/Assets/pdfs/A4160.pdf that explains in depth the curculio's life cycle, etc.

. To perform this technique, a white sheet is placed under the tree and each branch is tapped with a stick. If done around petal fall when the adult beetles are active, this will dislodge them, causing them to fall onto the sheet. Early in the morning is the best time of day to beat branches because temperatures are cooler and the beetles are more likely to fall off rather than fly away. This works best for small trees where it is possible to hit each branch. Beetles that fall off the tree should then be killed. This practice would need to be repeated almost every day for about 4 weeks beginning at bloom to have any level of control.



Great information Judith, thanks for the tip!
 
Steve Thorn
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:

Hester Winterbourne wrote:As I type I can see the peach blossom starting to show pink in the bud in my back garden.  But the tree always gets peach leaf curl and I have never had fruit.



If you can, build a widely diverse compost heap for the purpose of being able to make compost tea from.
Use about a kilo of compost per 90 liters of water and either stir into a vortex or use an air pump with bubble stone to get air into the tea as you brew it. (brew for at lest 24 hours but no more than 72 hours)
Let the solids settle and fill a sprayer with the liquid then spray your trees with the tea, if you can do this once a month for a full growing season you should be able to prevent the leaf curl from happening.
If you want to not have to wait for solids to settle, use some old T-shirt material to make a "tea bag" to hold the compost, once you have made and used your tea, the "left overs" can be used on the soil around the trees.

I have found that the wood ash brought up by Judith works several ways for peach and pear trees, all are good for the trees and bad for the bugs.

Redhawk



Neat info!
 
Steve Thorn
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The Elberta peaches are blooming!

They seem darker pink and more colorful than the Hale Haven peach blossoms.
Wide-open-blossom-.jpg
Wide open blossom!
Wide open blossom!
Branch-full-of-blossoms-.jpg
Branch full of blossoms!
Branch full of blossoms!
 
Steve Thorn
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The peaches are growing fast this year!

I'd love to see photos of your peach trees!
Baby-peach-.jpg
Baby peach!
Baby peach!
 
Steve Thorn
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This peach tree is in its first growing season and hasn't been pruned besides when the nursery I got it from originally pruned and shipped it.

It has a lot of branches growing out from it, and the growth is full, thick, and very healthy.

I haven't had any disease issues so far associated with the dense canopy. In fact, it has been growing more vigorously and is more healthy than my older peach trees that I had pruned in the past.

I was also excited to find this spider egg sac, which I haven't found in any of my pruned trees. I've noticed spiders and other beneficial bugs hiding in the thicker foliage. It appears that the extra cover helps protect them from predators and also makes it easier for them to catch or ambush prey.
Spider-egg-sac-in-unpruned-peach-tree.jpg
Spider egg sac in unpruned peach tree
Spider egg sac in unpruned peach tree
 
Steve Thorn
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I found this praying mantis egg case in the same peach tree above. Glad to see the predator bugs are moving in.
Praying-mantis-egg-case-in-a-peach-tree.jpg
Praying mantis egg case in a peach tree
Praying mantis egg case in a peach tree
 
Steve Thorn
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The peach seeds that I planted last summer are sprouting!!!



I planted seeds from three different peach trees in two different spots at two different times.

I planted them by just sitting them flat on the ground and using my thumb to push them down in the ground about an inch or two depending on how soft the soil was where I was planting them, and then I covered them with soil and pressed down firmly.

When I planted them, I don't think I had any leaf mulch on hand, so I think I used some cuttings of other green plants growing nearby and also some cuttings from some wild bushes growing nearby.

Two of the peach trees that the seeds came from are the two larger peach trees that I'm growing. I also got some seeds from a wild peach tree that was growing really well nearby.

All of the seeds in the circle mound on the left were planted in the middle of summer last year after the squirrels had harvested most of the seeds and piled them up for me. The ones planted in the rectangle bed to the right were planted earlier this year after being kept in the fridge and they were collected and stored there over most of the winter.

There are a handful of seedlings sprouting in the circle left bed but none have sprouted yet in the rectangle bed on the right.

It seems like they are growing super fast! I'm guessing that with the larger seed compared to other fruits, they have more energy stored up and are able to shoot up quickly with all of that stored energy. The oldest one has only been sprouted for about a week and most are only 1 to 3 days old! Grow little peaches, grow!

The oldest one seems to have stopped growing, due to either damage to the tip bud or just general weakness. That's ok though, I only want the toughest and best ones for my area to be growing here. I'm not planning on babying it, only the best will survive.

I'm really excited to see how these turn out!
 
Steve Thorn
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Here's a one month update on my peach trees growing from seed!

They have grown super fast, some of them over a foot their first month!



They're growing very close together with lots of other peach tree seedlings.

So far peaches seem like a good beginner fruit tree to grow from seed. They've grown really fast and I'm guessing that they will produce fruit as soon as their 3rd growing season.

All of these seedlings won't be pruned and will be left in a natural form.

Hopefully they'll keep growing quickly and be great new peach varieties for our area!
 
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Hi, steve. How are peach seedlings doing? Any update?
I recently found a seedling growing in my veggie garden and it looks a lot like peach. It has been growing fast, about 1 ft wide and 1.5 ft tall. I will have to relocate my veggie bed next year to keep this tree.
 
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Years ago when I lived in south Georgia, I had good luck controlling plum curculio in plums and peaches by running chickens under the trees.  The best results were had by having enough birds out there to keep the ground scratched bare....sometimes I would take them away to grow a winter cover crop but I'd always put them back by the time the trees bloomed.  Early varieties helped too....simply less time for the bugs to do their damage.  The result was about 75% worm free fruit on the early peaches and even more on the Methley plums, which are even earlier.  People from the extension service came out to take a look...I think it really rocked their world.  That was around 1990.  Nobody knew what permaculture was there then, and the very idea that combining chickens and fruit trees was sort of radical.
 
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I'm going to be picking up a couple peach tree seedlings this fall to start getting them ready for planting in our backyard.
I've been doing a lot of research into varieties that will do well here; our winters are pretty variable, sometimes with as few as 400 chill hours, sometimes as many as 700.
Our area is also subject to some major wet/stormy weather during the winter, usually in late December or early January.
What kinds of precautions will I need to take to protect our peaches? Should they go in the dirt in the fall, of should they be kept in large planters/drums until the weather evens out in early spring?
My grandfather used to have a peach orchard out in the Texas Hillcountry a few hours from where we live now, and fresh peaches on top of homemade vanilla ice cream is one of the best memories of my childhood.
 
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Thanks for sharing Steve! I planted my first peach tree earlier this year and I'm hoping it does well. It's a variety called Avalon pride which apparently was a "chance seedling" that was growing on a property near Seattle. Here in western WA growing peaches and nectarines is challenging because they tend to get hit by peach leaf curl. I had to take out a nectarine tree that was given to me because it was getting hit so badly by the leaf curl. But Avalon pride is supposed to be very resistant to leaf curl. Sounds like since the original plant just came up from seed and survived to produce fruit it happened to have a high resistance to leaf curl. So far despite this being a wet late spring (wetter than the last few years) I'm not seeing any leaf curl on this newly planted peach!

This one is grafted but I'm hoping that once it grows and starts producing fruit that I can save some of the seeds to get a bunch of leaf curl resistant peaches. I'm thinking I would sow a number of seeds in each spot and just remove any of the seedlings that got leaf curl. Hopefully this would let me get more peach trees that don't suffer from leaf curl.

I think this story of the Avalon pride peach also highlights why growing from seed can be a great option. I'm sure most peach seedlings coming up here in western WA wouldn't thrive because of the leaf curl. But this one happened to be resistant and the result seems to be a peach tree that does well here in western WA
 
Hugo Morvan
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Good plan Daron, kill of the seedlings that prove not disease resistant.
I've got three peach trees, the previous owner planted, they're different so the mix might be interesting.
Had quite a lot of seeds which i've planted in tree nursery by a ditch which flows full of water if it rains hard. Oaks stand south of it. Safes watering and in the morning and evening they get sun. Works allright for the peach section.
Peach-seedlingsnursery.jpg
[Thumbnail for Peach-seedlingsnursery.jpg]
 
May Lotito
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Hi, Hugo, I saw you are planting the seedlings quite closely. Do you plan on transplanting them later on?
 
Hugo Morvan
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Hi May, yes that’s the idea. I’ll let them grow until the safest time to replant them in autumn when they lost their leaves. Carefully i’ll try to loosen up the roots and give them a new place. In 5 years time i might have more peaches than i can handle, but the idea is that the wildlife can have it then. The farmer with who i work withsays there used to be a lot more fruittrees before mechanized hedge maintenance took over. And more wildlife, feasants and smaller mammals.
Next year i take a shot at growing ash trees in the nursery.
 
Daron Williams
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Hugo Morvan wrote:Hi May, yes that’s the idea. I’ll let them grow until the safest time to replant them in autumn when they lost their leaves. Carefully i’ll try to loosen up the roots and give them a new place. In 5 years time i might have more peaches than i can handle, but the idea is that the wildlife can have it then. The farmer with who i work withsays there used to be a lot more fruittrees before mechanized hedge maintenance took over. And more wildlife, feasants and smaller mammals.
Next year i take a shot at growing ash trees in the nursery.



How deep do you plant your peach seeds? Also, do you plant them fresh or do you store the seeds before planting? I tried planting 2 seeds last fall but they didn't germinate.
 
Hugo Morvan
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Daron, i usually go by the rule that i plant seeds as deep as the size they are long, but this plantation was pretty rough, and most definitely not precise. I had saved loads of pits in a plant pot which i had left standing outside a year. It had maybe two hundred seeds in there.Prior to the nursery I've had them pop up in my lawn under the peach trees when they had fallen out of the tree. Sometimes i can't reach all peaches, and the higher ones just drop. So that accounts for fresh. For years they have popped up in my veggie patches and compost heap. I've given quite a few seedlings to people.

Steve how deep did you plant yours?

Keep watching the spot Daron, last year i was disappointed , when i had none coming up at a place where i had planted them. It was an extremely dry summer, a lot of them popped up this year. And i had completely rearranged the bed direction so they had at least two inches of composted soil on top of them.
I conclude they're pretty tough cookies that can hold out at least a year if circumstances are unfavorable.
The bigger seedlings in the photo popped up two month ago, but still new ones appear..
 
Steve Thorn
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May Lotito wrote:Hi, steve. How are peach seedlings doing? Any update?
I recently found a seedling growing in my veggie garden and it looks a lot like peach. It has been growing fast, about 1 ft wide and 1.5 ft tall. I will have to relocate my veggie bed next year to keep this tree.



Hi May,

The peach seeds are doing well and growing fast, thanks for asking! I'll try to post a picture and video of them soon.

That's exciting that you have a volunteer peach tree coming up! The volunteers generally seem to be some of the toughest plants from what I've seen.
 
Steve Thorn
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Alder Burns wrote:Years ago when I lived in south Georgia, I had good luck controlling plum curculio in plums and peaches by running chickens under the trees.  The best results were had by having enough birds out there to keep the ground scratched bare....sometimes I would take them away to grow a winter cover crop but I'd always put them back by the time the trees bloomed.  Early varieties helped too....simply less time for the bugs to do their damage.  The result was about 75% worm free fruit on the early peaches and even more on the Methley plums, which are even earlier.  People from the extension service came out to take a look...I think it really rocked their world.  That was around 1990.  Nobody knew what permaculture was there then, and the very idea that combining chickens and fruit trees was sort of radical.



That's really interesting Alder, thanks for sharing!

I was reading the other day that ants and beneficial predatory wasps target the plum curculio and can significantly reduce their numbers. I'm trying to leave the areas mostly undisturbed around the fruit trees to encourage ants to move in there. I've also left a huge amount of native plants growing, which really seems to be drawing in tons of species of beneficial wasps of all shapes and sizes. I even saw one of the wasps fly into a spider web, and I thought it was a goner. Instead the wasp grabs the spider and takes off. I had never seen or heard of anything like this before, and was probably standing there with jaw dropped for a few seconds.  

I'm also experimenting with growing some plants around the peach trees that will hopefully repel the plum curculio also. I hope to get some catnip established soon, as it supposedly repels weevils, and the plum curculio is a weevil.



 
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Carolyne Castner wrote:What kinds of precautions will I need to take to protect our peaches?



Hey Carolyne,

For protecting the young peach trees, I generally use a 4 foot tall metal fence, that can be easily spread out in a circle around the tree with about a 3 or 4 foot diameter, which should protect the tree from most herbivores. I prefer a 4 foot diameter for the circle fence around the tree if possible. It uses more fencing, but it will both give the tree more room to spread out and grow, and I usually don't have to anchor the fencing at that diameter, as the base is wide enough that it is sturdy and won't blow over.

I'm hoping to transition to using just twiggy branches soon for protecting young trees and am currently experimenting with it. I like it better since it is free and uses natural material that will break down on its own over time, and it doesn't have to be removed later. I've had good success so far with using larger branches stuck in the soil around the trees to discourage larger herbivores, and smaller branches can either be stuck in the ground or laid on the ground around the trees to deter smaller herbivores.

Should they go in the dirt in the fall, of should they be kept in large planters/drums until the weather evens out in early spring?



Your area sounds like it most likely gets pretty hot during the summer and not too far below freezing during winter. For climates like ours, I have had good success planting the trees in late Fall, usually November here after all the plants go dormant.

By planting it while the tree is dormant, and as soon as possible after it goes dormant, it will minimize the transplant shock of the tree. It will  have more time to get adjusted and grow good healthy roots before the hot and dry summers arrive.

My grandfather used to have a peach orchard out in the Texas Hillcountry a few hours from where we live now, and fresh peaches on top of homemade vanilla ice cream is one of the best memories of my childhood.



That sounds amazing!
 
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Daron Williams wrote:Thanks for sharing Steve! I planted my first peach tree earlier this year and I'm hoping it does well. It's a variety called Avalon pride which apparently was a "chance seedling" that was growing on a property near Seattle. Here in western WA growing peaches and nectarines is challenging because they tend to get hit by peach leaf curl. I had to take out a nectarine tree that was given to me because it was getting hit so badly by the leaf curl. But Avalon pride is supposed to be very resistant to leaf curl. Sounds like since the original plant just came up from seed and survived to produce fruit it happened to have a high resistance to leaf curl. So far despite this being a wet late spring (wetter than the last few years) I'm not seeing any leaf curl on this newly planted peach!



That's awesome Daron!

Yeah I've found cultivar selection can make all the difference! Some varieties really struggle here, while others thrive.

This one is grafted but I'm hoping that once it grows and starts producing fruit that I can save some of the seeds to get a bunch of leaf curl resistant peaches. I'm thinking I would sow a number of seeds in each spot and just remove any of the seedlings that got leaf curl. Hopefully this would let me get more peach trees that don't suffer from leaf curl.



That sounds like a great plan.

I'm doing something similar, except since my main problem here is the curculio, I'm hoping to select for peaches with thicker skin, that will hopefully be more resistant to the plum curculio.

I think this story of the Avalon pride peach also highlights why growing from seed can be a great option. I'm sure most peach seedlings coming up here in western WA wouldn't thrive because of the leaf curl. But this one happened to be resistant and the result seems to be a peach tree that does well here in western WA



I agree!

I think if all of us grew our own fruit trees from seed, the number of delicious and locally adapted varieties could be amazing!
 
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Hugo Morvan wrote:Steve how deep did you plant yours?



I do about the same as you mentioned Hugo, about the length of the seed.

I had good success planting them during the summer after collecting them. For planting, I just laid them flat on the soil, and pushed them into the earth with my thumb, about up to my thumb joint, and then covered them up, pressing the soil on top of them.
 
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The peach seedlings are continuing to grow well and look very healthy!

There are a ton of seedlings in this little circle bed!

So even if you've got a small area, you can still grow a ton of peach trees from seed!
20200617_204140.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20200617_204140.jpg]
 
Steve Thorn
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This is a one year update on a peach tree grown from seed that was probably planted by a squirrel.

It has never been pruned, and has a naturally healthy form.

It's grown over 6 feet in its first year of growing, and it has started developing a lot of new young side branches this year.

Hopefully we'll get some tasty peaches next year, less than 3 years after the tree seed was planted!

 
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1) super cool!
2) how did you identify it as a peach?
3) how do you know how long before sprouting?

4) PROMISE you will keep us updated?!
 
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Lorinne Anderson wrote:1) super cool!



Thanks Lorinne!

2) how did you identify it as a peach?



I thought it looked like a type of stone fruit when it first sprouted, and assumed it was a plum tree at first, since I had a lot more plums that year. As it got a little bigger, I compared it to the other nearby fruit trees, and matched it up with the peach trees. They were actually the closest bearing fruit trees also, so it made sense.

3) how do you know how long before sprouting?



I actually planted a plum tree right beside it, so I was watching the area pretty closely, and something looked familiar and interesting about its leaves as soon as it sprouted. It grew quickly and vigorously all year last year and topped out at around 6 feet. It left the poor plum tree in the dust!

I think this is what you were asking, let me know if you were talking about something different.

4) PROMISE you will keep us updated?!



Definitely!

My Youtube Channel will have lots of updates if anyone wants to subscribe, just click and hit the red button!

I plan to do multiple video updates of how the tree is growing and how the fruit turns out also, along with hopefully similar experiments with other types of fruit in the future! Thanks for watching!
 
Lorinne Anderson
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Even MORE cool now! Who would have thought it would have that amount of growth?! Tree-mendous!
 
Steve Thorn
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This peach tree is on its 2nd growing season, and it is really putting on tons of new growth this year, and a lot of the new growth is sending out lots of side branches also!

This tree sent out lots of suckers from the root stock last year, which I removed this past dormant season. It looks like it is doing fine after that, and I plan to leave it to grow in a natural form going forward with no pruning. I hope to also mound up around it soon and cover the graft  union to encourage the scion portion of the trunk to send out its own roots.
20200627_170103.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20200627_170103.jpg]
 
May Lotito
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Does peach tree usually grow as a whip the first year? How come my tree is sending out side shoots from every node. It's in a pyramid shape like a Christmas tree now.
 
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Your trees sound like they have a great healthy and natural shape May!

I prefer the shape of your trees over just the whip like growth of some trees. From what I've seen, really healthy peach trees will send out lots of side branches their first year if they've got room.

I planted a lot of seeds in a tiny space, so this year's seedlings seem to be trying to grow straight up to out compete their neighbors for sunlight. They also were in decent but not great soil.

My seedling peach tree that is a little over a year old in the video above, put out tons of side branches its first year and also grew to about 6 feet its first year.

I hope to plant the peach seeds directly into the food forest going forward in their permanent home, so they'll both have more room to grow and never have to be transplanted.

Would love to see some photos of your peach seedlings if you have any photos, hope you get some tasty peaches soon!
 
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