Peachy Keen

Saturday, June 2, 2012

June Pride Peach Tree-Bird Back 40
There is only one thing that I can think of in this world that's better than a tree full of ripening peaches. It would have to be a peach tree, loaded with peaches, that is doubling in size.

Why is this such a good thing? DUH! More peaches next year! When it comes to growing fresh peaches in the backyard, one tree full of peaches is never enough. Two or three trees is just about right.

There is something rather strange and exciting taking place in the Bird Back 40 this 2012 spring season. The peach trees that the wife that is Venus and I planted some four years ago are -- for some reason -- both growing like weeds. It's enough to make a amateur peach grower wonder: Why didn't this happen last year? The year before? Why this year?

Exponential Peach Tree Growth
Both the June Pride and O'Henry peach trees are finally beginning to take off in terms of new growth. And while that may not mean much in terms of peach production this year, it almost certainly portends good things to come next year and in the years to follow.

I still haven't begun to figure out why certain fruit trees will grow an inch one year and then two feet the next. Does it have anything to do with fertilization? Water? Perhaps they're just in a really good mood? Those love songs I croon to them in the dead of night (sorry neighbors)?

Not that I'm complaining mind you. I'd always been somewhat distressed by the lack of growth in both Bird Back 40 peach selections. Don't peach trees get any bigger than this? Hey! Look at that Royal Rainier Cherry tree planted some 30 feet away! It grew ten feet last year! Why can't you do that June Pride?

Perhaps the shame worked.

Ripening O'Henry Peach
It also might be the fertilization schedule that I adopted last year at the advice of Folsom City Arborist Ken Menzer. His point was, why fertilize fruit trees once or twice and then stop? Why not fertilize them once a month? Why not try a cocktail of different fertilizers? If the liquid organic fertilizers are so successful with tomato crops, try feeding the same mixture to the fruit and citrus trees.

Menzer's message has largely been a blessing. It's not just the peach trees that are literally reaching for the sky this spring. The table grapes -- now entering their third year of growth -- are putting on a show I've never quite witnessed. Several of the citrus trees are reacting in the same manner. The Dancy Mandarin, for example, has now grown so large that I will need a ladder to harvest the production at the top of the tree.

New Fruit Bearing Branches-June Pride Peach
Although the mockingbirds that curse the Bird Back 40 are casting a hungry glance at the June Pride and O'Henry peaches that are slowly growing into maturity this season -- I dare not throw a net over these trees. While netting does preserve a crop for "humans only" it also tends to bend branches in a downward direction. What had been a ten foot tall tree loses a foot or three once the netting is removed.

Short and sweet? Those new branches that are green and pliable have been bent in a terrible direction for so long that they're not going to "straighten up and fly right" again. So -- the net stays off. The mockingbirds will probably knock half the crop off the tree -- a tragedy no doubt. But my "new growth" patience will pay off with larger harvests in the years to come.

What more could anyone ask? What's better than fresh peach pie? Two peach pies!

I'm such a glutton!

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