This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
PEACH trees should be, in our opinion, trained in the fan form, making the trunks not more than half boot-leg high. If trained in long trunks the fruit will, in a few years, be almost or quite out of reach for gathering. As the tree advances in age, it also advances in height, shedding the lower limbs and making its new bearing wood higher up from the ground. Thus the fruit, when the tree bears, becomes very difficult to gather, in consequence of its extreme height; the weight of the fruit also being thrown so far from the body, endangers the destruction of the tree by the weight being so far from the trunk.
Hence to have a successful peach orchard, where the soil, the climate and the altitude are favorable to the production of this fruit, trees should not only be trained low, at the start, but should be kept low by annually cutting back the young bearing wood. This will keep the fruit easy of access at gathering time, prolong the life of the tree; will prevent the usual amount of shedding of the lower limbs, and increase the vigor of the fruit buds which lie between where the cutting back is done and the last year's growth. The fruit is thus kept in convenient distance of the ground for gathering, the fruit buds are better able to withstand the extremes of cold in the winter, are rendered more certain to bloom in the spring, are better able to withstand late spring frosts, and the life of the trees is prolonged. Upon the subject of shortening in the annual growth of the bearing wood, there is some difference of opinion among pomologists as to the time of doing it, some preferring late fall, others late winter or early spring, and others early fall, or so soon as the fruit is matured and gathered.
We indorse the latter opinion, for the following reasons: first, it prevents, if not done too soon, the further extension and growth of young wood for the season, husbands all the sap which would have otherwise been expended for this purpose, and applies it to the increased vitality of the fruiting buds for the coming crop. If the above system is strictly carried out, together with the instructions heretofore given upon the culture of the peach, we have no hesitation in saying that this delicious fruit can be made quite a sure crop.
For the destruction of the grub, which is sometimes quite destructive to peach trees, an annual application of hot water, or a mound of leached ashes kept around the trunk at the root, will in almost every case be successful. Where either or both of these should fail, the use of the hand and knife will do the work effectually.