Miracle of gardening miracles! I successfully grew peaches in the greater Seattle area. This is no small feat even during years with ideal weather (which is rare), but it is pretty amazing this year considering the cold spring and summer we’ve had. Peaches need heat and we haven’t had much this year. In the best of years, I am lucky to get a peach or two off of the two peach trees in the orchard (I’m not counting the mini dwarf peach in the greenhouse). This year I had considerably more. In fact, I harvested about 15 lbs of peaches from this tree. It’s not a huge amount, but it was definitely enough for both fresh eating and jam making. The only difference between this year and years past is that I hand pollinated the tree this year. I’ve been paying close attention to bee activity in the orchard this year and have stepped in when I needed pollination and didn’t see bees out there doing the job. One challenge with peaches is that the trees bloom when the weather is still pretty cool here, so the bees aren’t out and about yet. Hand pollinating is easy to do and doesn’t take much time, so I thought I’d give it a try. It’s the only reason I can see for better peach fruit production this year.
Aren’t they pretty? The variety is Frost. It is supposed to be a semi freestone peach, but I found the pit to be more attached than free, which makes them better for jams than for sliced peach canning. For those of you who don’t know what a freestone peach is, it simply means that the pit isn’t tightly attached to the peach flesh. Freestone peaches are nice for canning because it is easy to get the pit out and neatly slice the peaches. When the pit is attached, you have to cut the peach flesh away from the stone, which is more work and makes the peach slices not quite as pretty. This doesn’t matter, however, if you are making jam because the peaches will get all mashed up anyway.