The peach trees are sprouting! Save stones from your favourite peach this summer and grow them on for your very own, hardy little peach (or apricot) tree.
This is an awesome thing to do in schools. Choose a peach that’s ripe in term time, hardy and leaf curl free. A real treat for kids to pick fresh organic peaches – especially if they’ve grown them from stone.
The peach I’m growing on is River peach – our favourite. It’s small, with greenish skin, white fleshed and very sweet. I got the original stone from the Waihoanga centre, Otaki gorge where I gardened for many years. If a peach can grow in the cold wet gorge without a problem then its got a hardy whakapapa. Its the kind of peach I want to grow!
A locally grown heritage variety is your best bet.
Peaches grown from stone get less fungus, making it a worth while exercise if you live in a high rainfall area like us and want peaches without having to muck about with all the extra care leaf curl brings. Worthwhile also if you want to grow Grandma’s favourite peach, or reproduce your favourite one, or just have a play. Apricots are worth a go as well.
I saved these peach stones last summer and we’re growing them on at Shannon school. We’ll fit as many around the school grounds as we can.
The simplest is a la mother nature – plant stones direct in the ground at harvest time. It’s a good idea to mark the spot. I know people who always have self seeded peach trees at their place. I do not. Even when I purposely plant the stones. Too cold? Too wet? I’ve only ever had one tree germinate this way. However if you’ve got free drainage through winter and spring this could be for you.
After the failure of the in ground planting method I went one step on and potted up the stones at peach harvest. 1 out of 6 germinated. Not great huh.
So after chatting with my mate Sarah I cracked the stones open and potted up the kernel. That upped the anti – 1 in 3 – huzzah! Here’s how.
Wait until the stones have dried out because they’re easier to crack. Using a hammer and a gentle hand, lay the stone on it’s side and tap along the join until it cracks apart. Inside is the kernel (looks like an almond).
Pot this into a free draining mixture. I used 50/50 river sand and home made compost and sprinkled some leaf litter on top.
Leave the pot outside to keep it as close to a natural experience as possible. They need to be cold. Just so long as they don’t get sodden or eaten by rats.
In a few months they’ll start to shoot.
When they out stretch their pot move into a larger pot. If the seedling tree is nice and robust (30cm-ish), plant it out the following winter.
Whether or not you need to stratify the seed in the fridge over winter or not, whether to crack the stone or not is to do with each of our particular growing environments and the variety of peach. Have a play to find a way that works for you.
I’d start with the simplest style and go from there. Easy + natural is good.
Dedicated to Flo.