Seeking Advice on Training Peaches To Fit a Narrow Space

charina(6b)March 18, 2014

I'm interested in other's opinions how they would approach training/shaping of peaches and nectarines in a five foot wide space between a sidewalk and the street.

To date, I have only pruned peach trees to a traditional open center with 3 or 4 scaffolds. This year, I will be planting peach and nectarine trees in a five foot wide strip between the sidewalk and the street, and am still undecided exactly how I will control their width so there is limited overhang and no eye-poking sticks for neighbors to 'find' as they walk by. I have about 120 ft of street side parking strip 5 ft wide that is going to waste as grass that has to be mowed.
Initially I thought I was going to try a quad v shape to maximize the scaffold footage and production. I don't mind the height and the ladder work necessary. And it would keep much of the productive parts of the tree out of reach of the deer that roam through this residential neighborhood. (although the deer avoidance is not a necessity - the dog [who loves to chase deer off the property] will be spending every night outdoors once it warms up.) I think I'm balking a little bit as I'm concerned that the trees are going to look gangly and unattractive with four tall straight near-vertical scaffolds. Esp in the winter. I'm not trying to impress the neighbors (although the wife is a little concerned about not offending them) - I just don't want something unattractive to myself as I drive up to the house.

I've read what I can find on here, particularly Fruitnut's and Scott's posts about pruning to control size. DW's BYOC has been a little bit of help, but not enough. I'm still having a hard time visualizing how to go about this in the space I want to fit these trees into. Go tall with quad v? Go narrow with a parallel v? Use something like a Spanish bush technique as a hybrid between open center and hex v, but still keeping the tree small? Just go open center and prune aggressively?

How would you go about effectively utilizing such a space for stone fruit production?

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Sounds like you want to espalier it as a fan (typical for peaches trained as espaliers). Googling such will probably give you all kinds of ideas.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 7:10PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

I've been struggling with the same question for several years now (although I have already planted my trees). There was a link to this article in another post and it describes a method that is similar to what I had decided to use with my peaches.

Peaches fruit only on wood that grew the previous year so logically I was going to train my peaches similarly to how grapes are trained. Every lateral that has fruited will be removed after fruiting, but a new lateral will be trained to take it's place during the same year (but from it's neighboring tree).

Here is a link that might be useful: Espaliering Made Even Easier - KNNN method

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 7:35PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

I would use a V base for the tree, two scaffolds from the base that are parallel to the sidewalk. Keep the branching going along the sidewalk, not into it - don't have any branches bigger than about a half an inch that head into the sidewalk. You will end up with a tree wide and thin. This is something like a fan pruning technique but simpler to do for the beginner. If you felt ambitious read up on fan pruning, the RHS Pruning and Training book has a good section on that for example. Peaches are very easy to train to fans.


    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 9:05AM
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One other option, if you haven't committed to particular varieties of peach yet, is a columnar tree. I have a Crimson Rocket and it naturally stays within the space you are talking about. The only thing you have to do is control the height for ease of picking.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 9:17AM
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Thanks for the suggestions. After reading a bit more from the Brits about fan pruning, the misunderstanding I had that espailer is not possible with peaches has softened. Evidently if one pays attention to selecting fruiting wood with the proper bud at the base, and then pruning to make that bud the terminal bud after fruit harvest, it is feasable in at least a fan form.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 6:22PM
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