You'll be peachy keen to grow these stone fruits
When we think about growing fruit in warmer parts of the country, we usually think of citrus trees and the classic tropical fruits such as mangoes, avocados, lychees, macadamias, pawpaws and passionfruit.
But many of the varieties we think of as cool climate fruits, such as peaches and nectarines, can also be grown in warmer climes.
But there is a trick, of course. If you want to grow peaches or nectarines in coastal areas north of about Port Macquarie, you need to plant 'low chill' varieties. The chilling requirement of a fruit tree is the minimum period of cold weather needed for the tree to produce viable blossom. The trees develop next year's buds in summer. The buds become dormant in autumn and need to be exposed to sufficiently low winter temperatures for them to break dormancy in spring and produce flowers and fruit.
There are several low chill varieties of peaches and nectarines. All have pretty blossom in mid-late winter, followed by fruit which usually matures quite early in the season, around October.
Early Beauty Peach grows to about 3m by 3m and is covered in lovely pink blossom in late winter/spring. It bears sweet, firm yellow fleshed fruit with a slight red pigment ripening in October. Nectarine Sunny Belle is a similar size, and produces fruit with an attractive red speckled skin and white flesh. It also matures in October.
Super Dwarf Sunset Peaches and Nectarines grow to 1-1.5m tall, and can be grown successfully in pots or in gardens. They have pink blossom in winter/early spring and lovely deep red leaves. Both produce an abundance of fruit - the nectarine has yellow flesh and the peach has white flesh mature in November/December.
Peaches and nectarines self-pollinate so you only need one tree. A tree will become highly productive in two to three years and pay for itself.
You will need to protect the crop from fruit fly, but this is easy to do now with the organic Eco-Naturalure. Bats and birds might also seek the fruit. You can cover the tree with a fine insect mesh and if you do it early, it will protect the fruit from fruit fly, birds, bats, and possums. Or you can bag individual fruit as it matures.
As a rule, fruiting trees need a sunny position, excellent drainage and adequate regular water and fertilising.
There is nothing quite as marvellous as eating fruit fresh from the tree.
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