This section is from the book "Commercial Gardening Vol3", by John Weathers (the Editor). Also available from Amazon: Commercial Gardening, A Practical & Scientific Treatise For Market Gardeners.
The Peach and Nectarine are both forms of Prunus or Amygdalus Persica, or Persica vulgaris, the wild form of which is supposed to be of Asiatic origin. The chief difference between the Peach and Nectarine is that the former has a downy skin to its fruit, while the latter has a smooth one. That they are intimately related is clearly shown by the fact that sometimes fruits, part Peach and part Nectarine (fig. 369) will be borne on the same plant. Instances are also recorded of a Peach arising from the seed of a Nectarine and vice versa.
Peaches and Nectarines are easily raised from seed, but established varieties are nearly always propagated by budding, although sometimes by grafting, on seedling stocks, or on stocks of Cherries, Almonds, or Plums. Varieties of the latter known as the " Mussel" and the " Brompton" are the stocks most generally used by British growers.
The leaves of Peaches and Nectarines are long and lance-shaped, the margins being either serrately or crenately toothed. Leaves with serrate edges are sometimes destitute of those mysterious glands on the leaf stalk, while those with crenate margins usually have roundish or kidney-shaped glands.
Fig. 369. - Fruit, part Peach, part Nectarine.
The flowers vary in colour from pure white to rose pink and bright crimson. In some varieties the flowers are small, in others comparatively large, and it is thought by some that the small-flowered varieties resist frost better than the large-flowered ones. It would be interesting to have scientific proof of this.
So far as the fruits are concerned they are classed as " clingstones" when the flesh is firm and adheres to the wrinkled stone, and as "freestones " when the flesh separates easily and cleanly from the stone.
Where there are suitable walls, the culture of this fruit is advisable. If done well it will add eclat to the collection on the grower's stand and attract the notice of the better class of retailer, who can be made a customer for other things by a salesman with his wits about him. If the goods are sent for sale on commission these remarks do not apply, because it will probably be desirable to send such goods as peaches to a different salesman from the one that sells the ordinary produce. If peaches are attempted, enough attention must be paid to them to do them properly or they had better not be touched at all.
The soil for them must be good, with plenty of humus and lime in it. The drainage must be good, and the means must be at hand for watering freely during dry summer weather. Thought is necessary in selecting sorts. Peaches are fruit that do not yet find their way to the table of the humbler and most numerous class of our population. Near large centres of population, therefore, it will not be wise to get this fruit on the market when the out-of-town season is in full swing. This presents a difficulty, because unless the grower is careful he will get the bulk of this fruit in during August.
"Hale's Early", "Early Alexander", and "Waterloo" may be got on to the market at the end of July, but after these two it is better, except where seaside towns are catered for, to depend on September and October fruiting varieties. It must be remembered that in Peaches the public seem much more concerned with appearance than flavour. Apparently the Peaches on the dessert dishes are relied on more for the tone they give to the eye than for the taste they bring to the palate. Good-flavoured Peaches, like " Noblesse", that have not colour, are discarded for varieties like "Prince of Wales", that carry a high colour.
Sorts worth planting are: "Royal George" (mid September), "Bar-rington" (mid September), "Sea Eagle" (end September), "Osprey" (early October), and "Salwey" (late October).
The grower need not buy two-year trained trees, for which he will have to pay 3s. 6c?. to 4s. each. Two-year cut back or one-year trained will do, which can be bought at 12s. to 18s. per dozen.
Prepare the place for the young trees by working in some turfy loam with crushed bones and seeing that the soil has been moved two-spit deep. Don't put a lot of fresh stable manure in when planting, but defer planting until a year or two of regular generous manuring has brought your soil up to concert pitch. If lime is needed in the soil, let this be applied the year before planting. Plant the young trees a few inches from the wall, sloping a little towards it. The distance apart should be about 12 ft. Don't cut back. A topdressing of manure during summer is helpful.
PEACH HOUSE WITH TREES IN BLOOM.
In Mr. Larsen's Nursery, Waltham Cross, Herts.
Several new plans of securing the branches to the wall have been tried, but none supersede for effectiveness the old plan of nailing to the wall, with a shred to hold the shoot.
It must be remembered that the object of planting against a wall is not only to secure the shelter of it from northerly or north - easterly air currents, but to secure for the trees and fruit the benefit of radiation of the sun heat which the wall gives off. Systems like wire trellis, which - to secure neatness or in search for economy - leave a space between the wall and the trees, defeat this main object and offer a draught where the tree asks for warmth. Various devices are in vogue to protect the blossoms from frost in spring, from glass copings and roller blinds to hangings of fish nets. There are growers who declare that as good crops can be obtained, taking one year with another, without any protection as with it. When we remember that in nine cases out of ten the fruit crop is made or marred by the manner in which the wood is ripened in the autumn, and that the frost in spring frequently but executes the sentence then pronounced, we must admit that there is much to be said for the "no protection" advocates. When the fruit has fairly set and commenced to swell, thinning must be done. Here is a great trial for the grower. If he has a man he can trust to do it he had better not attempt it himself. Many more Peach crops are spoiled by too many fruit being left on than by any of the raids of Jack Frost. One good large peach is worth at market three small ones. Let the fruit be thinned so that there is plenty of room for each to swell and not one more than the tree can find sustenance enough to bring to perfection.
The summer growths will need careful thinning out in July, only those wanted to fill the wall space being left, and these fastened back by pieces of rod end or other sticks inserted under the nailed branches, care being taken in doing it to uncover the fruit to the sun's rays.