Peaches are one of the gifts of summer and eating a sun-ripened peach straight from the tree is an experience everyone should enjoy. However, with modern shipping methods, it is one that fewer and fewer of us actually do have, so planting a peach tree in your yard is more than just a way of growing your own fruit, it is an investment in giving your family a special experience that will last a lifetime.
Peaches are not so hard to grow – just find a warm, sunny location, plant your tree and in 3 or 4 years you will be tasting the first fruit of what will become a seasonal bounty. One of the good things about peaches it that you usually only need one tree as most varieties are self-pollinating. The Elberta Peach is such a variety, so just one tree will give you bushels of fruit without taking up a whole lot of space in your yard. If you do want to grow another variety, then Elberta is a mid-season tree and will grow well with an early or later-ripening variety to extend the fresh-peach season by weeks.
Growing Elberta Peach Trees
The Elberta Peach tree is a medium sized tree growing to around 15 feet with purple-pink flowers on the bare branches each spring. It is a vigorous and healthy variety that will begin to bear fruit in 3 years and be giving you a full crop after 8 years. It will continue to give and give for at least 20 years. Peach trees need a warm, sheltered sunny spot with as much sun as possible and the Elberta Peach will grow anywhere from zone 5 to zone 9, so in most of America you can grow this tree.
Peach trees grow best in well-drained soil, so sandy loam is the ideal soil-type, but they will do well in any soil that does not stay wet. Always try to plant on a slope and away from low-lying areas. Make sure your tree does not suffer from drought. For the first year water your new tree well once a week and then whenever the ground becomes dry. It is always best to give a good, deep soaking once a week during hot weather rather than sprinkle on a little water each day. Soak the area underneath then ends of the branches and not close to the trunk.
To plant your Elberta Peach Tree, dig a hole three times the width of the pot and add some rich organic material. This could be garden compost, rotted manure, rotted leaves or anything else you have. Place your new tree in the center of the hole you have dug. Take a sharp knife and cut from the top to the bottom of the root-ball in three places around the tree. This will free the roots and encourage your tree to spread out in search of food and water. Put back most of the soil, water well and when the water has drained away replace the rest of the soil. Put organic mulch over the root zone and renew this every year, covering a larger circle as your tree grows.
Pruning and Maintenance
The Elberta Peach tree should be pruned towards the end of winter each year to encourage the biggest crop and to keep your tree healthy and long-lived. Your goal is to keep the center of the tree open so that sunlight can penetrate to encourage lots of flowers and to ripen the fruit. Establish an open frame-work of permanent branches radiating out from the trunk a little like the spokes of a half-opened umbrella.
Each year cut off the new shoots that will try to grow straight up in the center of the tree, as these will make too much shade. Cut back the existing smaller side branches to a few inches long to encourage more flowers. When the fruits are the size of a quarter remove some so that you have a peach every 6 to 8 inches along the branches. This way you will get nice big fruits instead of lots of small ones.
History and Origins of the Elberta Peach Tree
This is an heirloom variety of peach, which was developed in Georgia towards the end of the 19th century. Samuel Henry Rumph, who discovered it, named it after his wife and he was also the first person to use ice in rail cars to ship his peaches to the big cities in the Northeast. This was once the most widely-grown peach in America but it fell out of favor. Why? Because when picked green for shipping it stays tart and needs to be tree-ripened to give its best flavor. Then it is a delicious peach, with a refreshing, rich taste that is not over-sweet and has great appeal. Because it is lower in sugar than some other varieties it is also the ideal variety for canning, which means you can eat your own garden-grown Elberta Peaches every day of the year.
Buying Elberta Peach Trees
Elberta is a special variety of peach with a long-history. To be sure you receive the genuine article we take branches from properly-named trees and graft them onto sturdy roots. So beware of cheaper trees that may just be seedlings and will only prove to be a disappointment. Our trees are true to name and we are constantly receiving fresh new stocks so that our customers get the best trees shipped to them. However supplies of this popular heirloom variety can be limited, so order now or you may be disappointed.