Peaches and almonds

side-shoots. Select one side-shoot at the base as the replacement, one in the middle as a reserve and one at the top to extend the fruit-carrying lateral. Pinch back the remaining side-shoots to two leaves. When the basal side-shoot and the reserve lateral are 18 in long and the fruit-carrying lateral has a further six leaves, pinch out the growing points of each.

Pruning the standard tree The formative pruning is the same as for an apple (see page 47).

In the cropping years the objective is to encourage plenty of strong new growth each year to carry fruit in the next summer. This new growth is then cut back 50 per cent or more in the early spring of the year if it is to bear fruit. Long branches at the top of the tree should be removed at the same time. It is occasionally necessary to cut back some of the older wood which has become bare to young healthy replacements. Avoid, however, making large wounds because peaches are susceptible to bacterial canker. Feeding and watering In early spring each year apply a balanced fertilizer such 10-10-10 at the rate of 3 oz per square yard as a top dressing over the rooting area. Replenish the mulch if necessary.

Trees over the age of three years need nothing more than nitrate of soda or ammonium sulfate unless a soil test indicates the soil has a potassium or phosphorus deficiency.

Keep the soil moist at all times until just before the fruit begins to ripen. Ample water is essential to good production. But it is also important to keep the tree accustomed to moist soil conditions at all times. In other words, do not suddenly apply a lot of water near ripening time because there is the risk of splitting the fruits. Because the soil at the base of a wall tends to dry out rapidly, fan-trained peaches must be watered with special care. Direct water at the base of the tree so that moisture gets to the roots. Do not wet the foliage. Frost protection

Protection of the blossom against frost is also essential from pink bud stage until the danger of frost has passed. Drape the fan-trained tree with burlap or bird netting (see page 17). Remove during the day.

4 In March, spray with a copper fungicide or Bordeaux mixture against peach leaf curl. Also spray with dormant oil.

Planting

Planting

1 Before planting, fork in 3 oz per square yard of a balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, with 3 oz bonemeal. Repeat every March.

2 In March or April, plant during the dormant season. A fan should be 6-9 in away from the wall or fence with the stem inclined towards it.

3 After planting, mulch to a depth of 2-3 in with manure or compost for 18 in around the tree. Replenish every year in late winter.

Thinning

6 From August onwards, pick the fruit when the flesh feels soft at the stalk end. Hold the fruit in the palm of the hand, lift and twist it slightly.

Thinning

5 From early May to July, thin the fruits, starting when they are the size of large peas.

Harvesting

Harvesting

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