The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Thinning the peaches

Thinning peachesEverything I do in the garden at this time of year is a gamble.  Will a late frost negate my efforts?  Or will I get away with pretending summer weather is here to stay and reap an early harvest?

I've been eying our peach tree for weeks as the ovaries began to swell and resemble miniature fruits.  If nothing goes wrong, this year will be our first harvest and I've resolved to thin the fruits even though thinning is really optional.

On the negative side, thinning takes time, and if you thin and then get a heavy, late frost, you will lose a lot of your crop.  On the other hand, timely thinning is supposed to result in fruits that are bigger and sweeter, and will reduce the chance of limbs breaking under the fruits' weight.  I've read that you get about the same weight of fruit whether you thin or not; it's your choice whether you want a lot of small fruits that are mostly pit or fewer big fruits.

As long as you don't think you'll have any more below freezing weather, the earlier you thin the better since the tree will now be pumping all of its energy into the chosen fruits.  Extension service websites tell you to thin peaches to six to eight inches apart, but I couldn't quite bear to take off so many fruits and instead settled on about four to five inches between peaches.  I still pulled a full quart of immature fruits off our oldest peach, and a smattering from our younger peach and nectarine.  I'm trying very, very hard not to count my peaches before they, ripen.

Check out our homemade chicken waterer, perfect for spill-proof watering in tractors.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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My peach tree thinned itself a week or so ago. Did a good job, too.
Comment by Errol Tue May 11 08:11:40 2010
Oh boy --- I hope my tree doesn't decide to drop any of the peaches I've left on it (or at least not many.)
Comment by anna Tue May 11 19:47:41 2010

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