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Growing Peach Trees from Seed Naturally

 
gardener
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Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
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Have you wanted to try growing peach trees from seed and create your own new variety?

Then let's grow some peach trees together!

So why grow peaches from seed when there are numerous good existing varieties?

Most of the modern peaches aren't adapted to my particular climate and also aren't resistant to our local pests and diseases here.

Growing peach trees from seed creates the possibility to create totally new types of peaches that are more vigorous growers in your climate, more resistant to pests, and match your specific taste preferences!

If you'd like to stay up to date with the latest videos, you can subscribe to my Youtube channel HERE by clicking the red subscribe button and click the bell to get email notifications for each new video! I'd love to have you join me for this journey!
 
Steve Thorn
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These peach seedlings are about 4 months old and already about 3 feet tall.

It's time to transplant them into their final home in the food forest! It's really hot right now and definitely not the ideal time to transplant them, but peaches seem to be pretty tough in the hot weather, so I think they'll do fine.
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Hi. Our family is contemplating growing some stone fruit from seeds as well! We have been enjoying peaches, nectarines, plums, and plum/apricot hybrids from our local Southern California  farmers market (they’re actually grown in Reedly, CA) and want to try to plant some seeds.

How do you plan to approach this, Steve? Direct seeding in the ground? In containers? Natural stratification or ?? Maybe it starts with finding local neighbors who successfully grow peaches and collect seeds from them? What’s your plan?

As you may be able to tell, this is my first post, as I have just been “lurking” for the past few months trying to glean some gardening wisdom. This topic enticed me to take the leap to active participation.
 
Steve Thorn
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Tom Grom wrote:Hi. Our family is contemplating growing some stone fruit from seeds as well! We have been enjoying peaches, nectarines, plums, and plum/apricot hybrids from our local Southern California  farmers market (they’re actually grown in Reedly, CA) and want to try to plant some seeds.



That sounds really neat Tom, and it sounds good that they are being grown kind of close by, so hopefully the seedlings you grow will be pretty adapted to your local area.

How do you plan to approach this, Steve? Direct seeding in the ground? In containers? Natural stratification or ?? Maybe it starts with finding local neighbors who successfully grow peaches and collect seeds from them? What’s your plan?



I got some local peaches and plan to direct seed them in the ground. I've found that makes it super easy and quick, and the seeds have a much better chance of surviving without having to depend on me for something. This year I plan to direct seed most of them in their permanent location, that way they won't even have to be transplanted.

As you may be able to tell, this is my first post, as I have just been “lurking” for the past few months trying to glean some gardening wisdom. This topic enticed me to take the leap to active participation.



Awesome! Welcome to Permies!

Would love to see some photos of your seedlings when they start to come up!
 
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im interested in seeing how they being transplanted this time of year. ive in the past had best luck transplanting trees in dormancy. also have eaten preaches from trees that were the result of animals spreading peach pits
 
pollinator
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My peach tree is growing very fast from pit but I don't have high expectation for the taste of fruit. I am not too impressed by the peaches/nectarines in store, they are hard like stone and flavorless. I will see if I can buy some donut peaches to grow more trees.
 
Steve Thorn
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Posts: 1945
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
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bruce Fine wrote:im interested in seeing how they being transplanted this time of year. ive in the past had best luck transplanting trees in dormancy. also have eaten preaches from trees that were the result of animals spreading peach pits



Yeah, I prefer to normally plant or transplant my trees in the fall too when dormant. It seems like the best time of year here for the health of the trees.

When I transplanted them I tried to keep as much soil on the roots as possible when I moved them. I also tried to move them really quickly and already had the hole dug that they were going into. I also watered them in pretty good right after planting them. I will just water them one, maybe two times, then they are on their own!

I think one reason these trees will make it, is that they haven't been watered at all before, not even once. I pushed the pits in the ground, and that was it. The toughest ones have survived, and there are quite a few of them, I think there are about 20 seedlings. They've had to have a good healthy root system and send down deep roots to search for water, and they are used to going through dry spells with hot weather and no rain.

We've had a lot of thundershowers recently, which I think will help them get established in their new home rather quickly!
 
Steve Thorn
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May Lotito wrote:My peach tree is growing very fast from pit but I don't have high expectation for the taste of fruit. I am not too impressed by the peaches/nectarines in store, they are hard like stone and flavorless. I will see if I can buy some donut peaches to grow more trees.



I think you may be pleasantly surprised May. I've tasted peaches from a wild tree that I expect was grown from a tossed peach from the store, and it was delicious when fully ripe.

The insects are so bad here, I haven't had much luck here yet letting them ripen on the tree. However, I pick them when they are still hard, but starting to color up good, and then ripen them on the counter, and they get soft and juicy and full of flavor and are amazing!
 
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I get where May is coming from, same thing goes for most fruits/veggies. The growers select for transportability for the supermarket chains where the fruits will be sold. As hard as possible, so nothing will get bruised during transport from the farm to the buyer. Longevity is another one of the trades, interlinked with transport ability. Taste is of much less concern, as long as it is very sweet most people will keep buying it, the taste which characterizes most fruits disappears, it all taste to cucumber to me. And last on the list of importance is nutrition, in France they found that overall the decline in vitamins/minerals in fruit/veg was 20% since 1950.
Still you can let it grow and graft a nice tasting variety onto it afterward or use the fruit to play baseball with.  
 
Tom Grom
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Hey Steve,
I guess I was composing my reply as you posted your update, which answered a few of my questions, seeing as you have already successfully had seedlings come up this year.
I found your youtube video when you were planting the peach pits/seeds, which appears to be from February. Between Summer 2019 and February 2020, where did you keep the pits? I imagine February in North Carolina provides plenty of chill hours in case the seeds had not already been cold stratified. I am under the impression that cold stratification helps with peach germination. What is your experience with this?
While you mentioned not watering the peach seedlings, I did notice an irrigation trough around the raised bed, which may help wick water into the soil, keeping a certain level of moisture in the bed (so long as there is some water to wick)? You also mention wanting to seed them in their final location next time rather than in somewhat of a nursery area then to transplant them to another spot. I think I may have more luck planting a bunch of pits in one irrigated raised bed or the like in order to have somewhat more consistent moisture and fertility, as opposed to planting them sporadically in places that may have sufficient room for a future tree but don't yet have quality soil or moisture.
Does anyone else have experience growing peaches from seed in an arid or mediterranean climate? It seems that the volunteer trees around here (I observe in the neighborhood) are growing quite close to their probable parent tree, enjoying her protection, though maybe not optimal room to grow long term.
I'll update you with how we go about planting them and can post photos if we succeed in growing something.
 
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I like to direct plant in the spot where they will grow permanently. I just put five or six seeds about six inches apart from each other and cover them up with boards, an old rug or even big flat rocks. I don't save the seeds, I just plant them as soon as the fruit has been harvested, at the same time that nature does it. Early the next spring I pull off the covering and have a bare spot with the seeds still there. When they sprout I thin down to just to two or three and thin again to just the best one. Extras can be potted up and sold. With peaches especially, they sometimes take two years so if none sprout just cover them back up the next fall.

We have wild peaches that grows here, some people call them Indian Peaches but I'm pretty sure peaches are not native to North America so they have to have gone wild from old trees. Anyway they are small, some only about the size of golf balls and the seeds are big. But that little bit of peach has more flavor than a bushel of store bought peaches. I interplanted some with named varieties that grow good here and it will a few years till I know what I get but should be fun to see what the new trees produce.


 
Hugo Morvan
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Hi Tom Grom. Summertimes here are pretty mediterranean last few years. The farmer i've partnered up with has dug a trench to the north of the oaks. He dumped the earth on the sides, it gets filled up in spring by rainwater behind it. Swale basicly. I've flattened out the top of the hill and dug in compost, planted seeds and cuttings in there. They're kind of shaded most of the day, get a few hours morning sun and evening sun. No problem. Some are 3 feet tall. About ten or fifteen. I've recently watered them and during a previous heatwave, maybe three times in total. They seem to thrive.
They're more vigorous than the seeds i've planted in the beds in full sun.
Sure it would be great to put the seeds there where you want the trees to grow, but what if there is another crazy drought filled scorcher summertime? I guess one doesn't exclude the other. One could get lucky with a rainy summer. In that case the nursery trees would be smaller and the seedlings bigger.
Most fruitgrowers buy their fruit trees from nurseries and replant them so i don't know if there really should be made a big issue out of replanting trees. I am hopeful they are picking up some nice mycorrhizal fungi from their sheltering oak neighbors to help them kickstart in their final destination.
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Steve Thorn
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Tom Grom wrote:I found your youtube video when you were planting the peach pits/seeds, which appears to be from February. Between Summer 2019 and February 2020, where did you keep the pits? I imagine February in North Carolina provides plenty of chill hours in case the seeds had not already been cold stratified. I am under the impression that cold stratification helps with peach germination. What is your experience with this?



Great question Tom. I actually planted a lot of them immediately after harvesting them, probably July 2019. These by far did the best. I had probably over 80% germination doing it then. I also had some that I never planted and kept these in the fridge, and these were the ones I planted in February. I only had one peach tree sprout out of those, which was about 15 seeds total. So yeah I definitely will plant the seeds right away from now on if it's at all possible.

While you mentioned not watering the peach seedlings, I did notice an irrigation trough around the raised bed, which may help wick water into the soil, keeping a certain level of moisture in the bed (so long as there is some water to wick)? You also mention wanting to seed them in their final location next time rather than in somewhat of a nursery area then to transplant them to another spot. I think I may have more luck planting a bunch of pits in one irrigated raised bed or the like in order to have somewhat more consistent moisture and fertility, as opposed to planting them sporadically in places that may have sufficient room for a future tree but don't yet have quality soil or moisture.



Yeah, there is a mini trench around the bed that catches a little rain water. I mainly dug the trench to create a raised nursery bed in the middle for the seeds, as the spot was overly wet. My peaches have seemed to do better with less water, rather than a lot of water.

Nursery beds have good benefits, like the seedlings are easier to protect, easier to observe, and easier to increase the fertility in the smaller area.

I just finished planting some seeds directly in the food forest, and am hoping to see some good results next spring. It will greatly decrease the workload if I can get them to sprout in their permanent home.

I'm not sure about your rainfall amount, but I'd encourage you to not really worry about the irrigation, in fact, you'll be naturally selecting for more drought resistant trees if you dont irrigate. Especially since I've seen peaches loving the hot and dry weather here, I think they'll be fine, and you'll have stronger trees as a result.

I'll update you with how we go about planting them and can post photos if we succeed in growing something.



Good luck Tom, looking forward to it, hope you get some nice peach seedlings soon!
 
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Steve, a question on planting - better to plant the whole fruit in the ground, as nature would, or eat the peach then plant the stone?
 
Steve Thorn
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Mark Reed wrote:I like to direct plant in the spot where they will grow permanently. I just put five or six seeds about six inches apart from each other and cover them up with boards, an old rug or even big flat rocks. I don't save the seeds, I just plant them as soon as the fruit has been harvested, at the same time that nature does it. Early the next spring I pull off the covering and have a bare spot with the seeds still there. When they sprout I thin down to just to two or three and thin again to just the best one. Extras can be potted up and sold. With peaches especially, they sometimes take two years so if none sprout just cover them back up the next fall.



That's neat Mark. I had good success with mine this past year just laying some twiggy branches on the soil and letting some weeds grow up around them. The branches protected the seeds from getting dug up by critters and the weeds provided a natural cover crop that helped build the soil, and they also mulched the seeds when they died in the winter, and the seedlings popped up in the spring ready to go.

We have wild peaches that grows here, some people call them Indian Peaches but I'm pretty sure peaches are not native to North America so they have to have gone wild from old trees. Anyway they are small, some only about the size of golf balls and the seeds are big. But that little bit of peach has more flavor than a bushel of store bought peaches. I interplanted some with named varieties that grow good here and it will a few years till I know what I get but should be fun to see what the new trees produce.



That sounds like it'll be a neat cross from those trees, I'd love to hear how they turn out.

I found a semi wild peach (most likely a seedling of a named variety) around here and was also blown away by the flavor. They were smaller but still decent sized and ripen to be so flavorful. I'm doing something similar like you mentioned and growing seedlings of this peach and named varieties that I bought and letting them all cross and see what fun results show up.
 
Steve Thorn
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Artie Scott wrote:Steve, a question on planting - better to plant the whole fruit in the ground, as nature would, or eat the peach then plant the stone?



That's a good question Artie, I've actually never planted the peach whole, which sounds interesting to try.

I would think that in nature there would be a good chance that an animal would eat the fruit and leave the seed. I've seen squirrels eat the peach flesh and then bury the pit, and I'm pretty sure that actually my oldest peach seedling was planted this way. I also imagine that if a larger animal ate the fruit whole, the seed would pass through the animal's system and kind of be "planted" in their scat. If the fruit just fell on the ground and laid there without being eaten by an animal, I bet the fleshy part would probably rot away by winter leaving the seed,  which would probably be covered in leaves or plants around it dying in the winter and kind of be "planted" just by laying there.

It seems like eating the peach and then planting the pit right away could mimic nature and be an easy and effective way to grow a lot of seedlings. I usually have peaches that aren't fit for eating, so I may give it a try just tossing some of them in an area and see how they do, seems like a super easy and natural way to plant them also!
 
Steve Thorn
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Planting some peach seeds!
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May Lotito
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Now is peach season! I'd like to share some pictures of my peach tree grown from pit. This is the first year so it will be a while to find out how the peaches will taste like. But never the less it's one healthy and fast growing tree!
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Found in my garden bed
Found in my garden bed
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Top view showed a 5 fold symmetry
Top view showed a 5 fold symmetry
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Trunk 1 inch thick
Trunk 1 inch thick
 
Steve Thorn
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Awesome pictures May!

That picture taken from above showing the symmetry is so neat.
 
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A friend just offered me a hundred peach seeds from her Contender peach growing in central MN. She had a bumper crop of peaches this summer. I helped her plant that tree a few years ago, and it survived -30F since then.  This is gonna be fun!
 
Steve Thorn
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That's awesome Nick, hope they turn out well!
 
May Lotito
pollinator
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I have a problem with my peach tree. There used to be sunflowers growing to the south side and blocked some sunlight. After the sunflowers were done, the tree received full sun and grew a bunch of branches on this side. One lower branch was nearly horizontal, so the side shoots are grow up into the center of the tree.

I guess I need to remove them eventually. Should I do it now before they get too big or can I wait till winter when the tree is dormant?

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Super leafy peach tree
Super leafy peach tree
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Steve Thorn
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You could bend the branches down some while they are still young and more flexible, instead of pruning them.

That peach tree just keeps looking more and more awesome, can't wait to see how the peaches turn out!
 
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