Peach Patrol



Behold a tree that is embroiled in more controversy,  pawed over more regularly, and assaulted by more attention, admiration, disgust, falling maple branches, and drunken wonder than a Real Housewife of Orange County.  A ‘Garnet Beauty’ variety, its checkered history began when the gardener ordered it bare-root from Fedco and neglected to stake it.  Because the soil on my hell strip is too light and sandy to hold its root ball in place, given its luxuriant crown, it started leaning.  Then it got caught on some construction equipment belonging to my neighbor’s contractor, and the lean became dangerous.

Adding to the general precariousness of its anchorage is its absurd fruit production.  A million absolutely delicious fruits that weight it down.  The tree is the wonder of Saratoga Springs, NY, because most people don’t understand that it’s possible to grow great peaches this far north.  Peach trees of the Fedco-recommended type will thrive into Maine as long as they are planted in poor soil.  In fact, the only reason peaches are associated with the South is the fact that they were one of the few crops that would do well in soil that had been wrecked by cotton.

The peaches ripen during tourist season in Saratoga.  So wonder means a lot of casual theft by drunkards. The squirrels also are casual thieves of my peaches, leaving the nibbled pits on my porch. I don’t mind.  The only form of thievery that ever really disturbed me was the premeditated form practiced by a sexagenerian  in a kimono, who used to arrive with a sack.

This year, however, the pilferage has been neglible because my daughter’s former babysitter, the lovely Etienne, is visiting from Paris.  Etienne loves good food and keeps an eye on the tree.  She checks the peaches several times a day and brings the ripe ones inside.  On Sunday, there were so many, that I made a pie.  Peach pie…a major reason to have a garden.  Like cherry pie and blueberry pie, peach pie is inedible when it’s made commercially.  But when it’s made with fruit right off the tree…sublime.

After the fruit is gone, I’ll get out there with a bow saw and a shovel and some stakes and see if I can restore some dignity to the tree’s posture. But I have to say, I love it anyway.


  1. Oh! I love peaches. What a gorgeous tree.

    I have an apple tree out front that’s leaning about as bad. I really should go out and stake it up …

  2. Hey Michelle, I’ll be in West Hebron just before Labor Day. Would be glad to come by and give you a hand with staking and pruning your peach tree. Will work for peach pie. 🙂

  3. My peach tree split and is now Y-shaped. Still produces the best darn peaches around, and abundantly, at that. And all of my citrus trees have developed the ’tilt’, despite my best efforts at keeping them vertical. Most of my fruit trees seem to be suffering some form of misfortune in the shape department. Wouldn’t know what to do with perfect-looking trees.

  4. I planted two peach trees three years ago in poor clay. They have grown twice the size and one is in shade. Unfortunately my dog gets everything under five feet and the squirrels get everything above, so I’ve had to appreciate the ornamental appeal– The flowers on early spring and the slightly tropical look of droopy leaves in the summer. Maybe a peach one day.

  5. I haven’t had so much fun reading about peach trees since, well, never.

    Perhaps treat it like my crab apple tree when the wind storm had blown it to about 45 degrees? My “soil” is also sand, and doesn’t become healthy until I seriously amend it. So naturally the root ball was like 4′ across for a nine foot tree. (Why leave the good soil I planted with it?) I dug under the uphill side of the uprooted roots, pulled it straight and staked it. Then I dug a perimeter around the soil it liked and largely replaced the barren sand with good garden soil enriched by mulch. After two years I removed the stakes – it has expanded the root ball diameter by over 100% even though it’s only grown a couple of feet taller, and now sneers at the occasional windstorm.

    I wish I could eat crab apples; it’s loaded right now.


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