Posts Tagged ‘peaches’

Feb13

Favorite Fruit of the Presidents – Thomas Jefferson

We begin our President’s Day series of blogs by City Fruit staff members with a focus on Thomas Jefferson and his favorite fruit.

Heath Cling Peach

Heath Cling Peach

My husband is a long-time admirer of Thomas Jefferson so we have had plenty of conversations about our third president and his personally designed Virginia home, Monticello. When investigating the Monticello orchards, I first focused only on Jefferson’s favorite apples, the Esopus Spitzenburg and Newtown Pippin. Thought maybe I’d plant those varieties of apples in honor of the man and his orchard … haven’t yet.

But this week I dug deeper into Mr. Jefferson’s fruit fancies and smiled when I learned that he and I share the same favorite fruit: the lovely, delicate, versatile, scrumptious, elusive but not impossible to grow in our climate peach.

Peaches, native to China, were introduced to North America in the 16th century by Spanish or French settlers. At Jefferson’s South Orchard at Monticello he planted over 1,000 fruit trees, including 38 new peach cultivars. By 1811 the orchard had 160 peach trees, by far the most of any fruit growing there. Peach cultivars that Jefferson planted in the Monticello orchard included American originals such as Heath Cling, Oldmixon Cling and Free, Morris’ Red Rareripe, and Indian Blood Cling.

Indian Blood Cling Peach

Indian Blood Cling Peach

Jefferson’s abundant peaches were made into a cider-like beverage called mobby, which was often distilled into brandy. Or they were juiced and mixed with tea, or peeled and pickled, or sprinkled with sugar and dried in the sun.

Not surprisingly, Thomas Jefferson also created the first American recipe for ice cream, and had it served often at his homes throughout his lifetime.

So for President’s Day, enjoy a very President Jeffersonian fruit dessert: Mr. Jefferson’s Ice Cream Sundae with Brandied Peaches and Praline Crumbles.

Even Thomas Jefferson had trouble getting some fruit cultivars to grow at Monticello. If you want to be successful growing fruit in the Seattle climate, check out the “Best Fruits for Western Washington Yards” Quick Reference Guide on the City Fruit website, under Resources.

Barb Burrill is the Director of Orchard Stewardship at City Fruit

Apr28

Peaches in Seattle?

This article was originally posted April 28, 2014 by Patrick Mann to the Brandon Triangle Orchard blog. Brandon Triangle Orchard is one of the sites lovingly cared for by Urban Orchard Stewards.


peaches 002I love peaches, and so do most people I know, so a peach tree was high on my list of fruit tree selections.

But how many peach trees do you see around Seattle? Not many, and for good reasons. So is the idea of Seattle-grown peaches sheer folly? Let’s consider all the reasons not to try growing peaches in Seattle:

Short-lived
Peach trees have a productive life of only about 20 years. Not much, compared to the over 100 years you can get from an apple tree. On the plus side, they grow fast and are precocious, bearing fruit earlier than many other fruit trees.

Chilling requirements
Seattle doesn’t get very cold, but since “chill hours” only require temperatures under 45°F, we actually get a surprisingly high average of 3000 chill hours. That’s more than enough for peaches.

Pollination
This is a serious issue. Peach trees flower early, when the weather is often too cold and wet to allow for successful insect-pollination. Fortunately, since peach trees usually require heavy thinning of fruit set, a sub-par fruit set may not actually be such a bad thing.

Disease
Peach trees are disease-prone. In particular, they are susceptible to peach leaf curl, a fungal disease promoted by cool wet winter weather, i.e. Seattle conditions.

Assuming you don’t want to spray chemicals, you do still have a few options:

  • Plant a leaf curl resistant variety, such as Oregon Curl Free, Avalon Pride, or Indian Free Peach
  • Protect your tree from winter rains by planting it against a house wall, under the roof overhang
  • Spray natural anti-fungals in early Spring, such as Trichoderma mix or Effective Microbes

Is it worth it?
That’s really up to you. I definitely think so. You won’t have a great harvest – or any – every year. But when the right conditions come together and you pick that perfectly tree-ripened fruit off your own peach tree, I think you will agree with me that it is worth trying.