Next Year’s Orchard

After our late winter tree trimming seminar with Roger Dotterweich, we were excited about the 2012 orchard. Unfortunately,  the severe freeze in late spring dashed any prospect of fruit from our orchard this year. But Roger’s  pruning tips and “magic” fertilizer caused our trees to double in size with hopes of a great crop in 2013.

We are extremely eager to see how our peach trees will produce.  In 2008, I remembered reading an article in a Mother Earth News magazine about growing peach tree from pits. I learned that, unlike most fruit trees which are grafted onto apple stock, the fruit of the peach, nectarine and almond were the only fruits that grew “true to seed.” So, in August of 2008, I gathered 10 peach pits from some peaches within our growing zone.

 Following the directions for saving the seed and storing it over the winter, I placed the seeds in a jar of moist soil and tucked them away in the back of my refridgerator.

In late Winter of 2009, I began to check my seeds every week or so and soon noticed little roots growing. I removed the seeds from the jar and planted them in large paper cups and placed them under the lights in my growing rack. When the time came to set my vegetable plants in the garden for the growing season, I had three thriving little peach trees about 10″ tall.  Instead of putting them in the orchard, I convinced my husband that they needed extra care and that we should set them in the end of one of the rows in our  vegetable garden. Mistake #1. By the end of the growing season, the two surviving trees were 18-24 inches tall and we assured oursleves that we would move them “first thing in the spring.”

Spring came and life got busy and we kept meaning to move the trees but never got a “rountuit.” At the end of 2010, the trees were 4-5 feet tall and we assured ourselves that we still had time to move them if we did it first thing in the Spring. Mistake #2

Spring of 2011, the trees looked so much bigger than they had in the Fall and we were now uncertain that we could move them without killing them…so they lived on in the garden. In fact, they were flourishing!! The had an abundance of beautiful pink blossoms and were covered in wee fuzzy peaches. We were so excited that we forgot that they were now taking over one quarter of our garden.

By July, we were counting the days until our peaches would ripen…they grew bigger each day and we could almost taste the peach pie and jam. In August, the first peaches began to show a rosy blush and we could smell peaches in the air. Each day we checked the trees and were sure that we had at least two bushels of peaches. Then the peaches began to rot and fall off.

We checked for signs of bugs and hoped that the peaches would ripen before they all died…we even brought a few green ones into the house, hoping they would ripen on the window sill. We got a precious bite or two but even those peaches rotted before becoming fully ripe. We spent the winter wondering what we had done wrong-enter Roger.

When Roger came to show us how to prune and feed our trees, he explained what had happened to our peaches; “While you are in your house enjoying a lovely dinner, your fruit trees are out here yelling…we’re starving, feed us too!!” He told us that the tree has a “fight or flight” mechanism that tells the tree, “It’s either you or the fruit, but you don’t have enough nutrients for both of you.” and the tree drops all of its fruit to survive.

After our seminar with Roger, we fed all of our trees according to his guidelines. Our trees doubled in size but unfortunately, the freeze took all of our fruit…which brings us to Fall of 2012. I saved a few peach pits from the peaches we bought from a local  produce stand and we are on our way to starting a new peach orchard next Spring.

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