Katherine Hayton | Peaches
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15 Jan / Peaches

I have three peach trees in total in my garden. I also have a nectarine. I bought these and planted them and fed them and watered them and sprayed them because I love fresh fruit, and apart from berries, peaches and nectarines are my favourite fruits.

So it’s a constant disappointment to me that these trees don’t produce much in the way of fruit. Apart from the Blackboy peach side of the twin-grafted Blackboy and Golden Queen peach tree. Or trees. What is the correct manner to refer to a double-grafted tree? If anyone knows please feel free to drop me a comment. Or, if you don’t know but you’re highly opinionated, likewise.

I wonder if you’d be able to guess my least favourite type of peach?

I actually purchased the double graft because then I could genuinely explain to anybody else in the household who questioned me that I had bought a different variety. I did just want the Golden Queen because the tree I had didn’t produce much fruit at all.

The Golden Queen side of the tree looked sick the first year and didn’t even produce a blossom. The next year it developed some lovely leaves, which then contracted leaf curl (from my chronically infected Nectarine) and started the process of dieing back. This year it grimly produced three leaves which fell off before the leaf curl could even get a look in.

I’m not expecting big things next year, and the qualifying whether it should be referred to in a singular or plural form may not be of long-serving use.

Meanwhile my lovely large original Golden Queen continues to produce almost no fruit at all. When it does it tends to hide the peaches from view, and I only know they’re there when they fall onto the ground; rotten.

Last year when I was loudly bemoaning the situation in the office a co-worked suggested that I give it a scare. Pare its branches back almost to the trunk and it may turn its mind towards reproduction and voila! Peaches.

My now much smaller tree started off well. Until the problem with the nectarine.

As mentioned before my nectarine has chronic leaf-curl. I can usually keep this in check and still have it produce a bounty of fresh nectarines (at least bountiful for its small stature, not for my hunger) if I spray it with copper at the beginning and end of the season.

I forgot to spray it at the beginning of the season, and when I remembered it was too late as the leaves were already out.

So this year the poor nectarine looks like a scabby cousin of its former self. It was already the runt of the peach-family, at only half the size of the tree purchased at the same time, and now the top half appears to have lost all ability to live. My only consolation is that when I cut off the deadwood it may look like one of those intricately manicured trees with thick trunks and wide low branches. I don’t know if it helps you to visualise, but they always remind me of a man trying desperately to do a comb-over.

The leaf curl spread quickly to the main Golden Queen tree, and all of the burgeoning little peaches swelling from the blossom promptly fell off.

Even in its reduced state the nectarine usually manages at least a dozen nectarines, but this year it’s holding on so grimly to the little life it has left that it’s also abandoned its budding fruits to the cold earth.

I’m starting to feel that I should save the money I’ve been spending on fruit trees, and perhaps invest it at the supermarket instead.

By Katherine Hayton in Katherine Hayton's Blog

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